Word from the Capitol is that Clean Elections has hired powerhouse lobbyist Mike Williams to lobby for a proposal to give every candidate seeking public financing the maximum amount of money. This is, of course, in response to the court decision invalidating the matching funds provision of the Clean Elections Act. To their credit, Clean Elections realizes that without matching funds or a change in the law to give candidates seeking public financing the maximum amount which in the case of the State Legislative races would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $55,000 or so, Clean Elections will effectively cease to exist as a credible means to run a campaign.
However, the likelihood of getting the requisite 75 percent necessary to make changes in the law is all but a non-starter at the Capitol. Why would any Legislator who does not use public financing vote to give their potential opponents $55,000? Money that would, if races from recent years are any indication, be used to attack them. That answer is that they wouldn’t. Furthermore, giving every candidate the max would require any candidate choosing not to use public financing to work that much harder to raise money.
In addition, there is an argument to be made that giving all candidates the max would in effect compel even more candidates to use public financing. If you were guaranteed upwards of a $100,000 for the primary and the general, you would have no choice with our low donation limits but to use public financing.
The more likely outcome, pending a reprieve from the 9th circuit, is that Clean Elections will cease to exist as a realistic funding source for any credible candidate and slowly whither away.
And for those who oppose the concept of using public money to finance political campaigns, it won’t come fast enough.