Monday, August 21, 2006

Nick Nyhart on Prop 89

Public Campaign Executive Director Nick Nyhart has a piece at Huffington Post where he mentions Proposition 89 as part of while discussing Clean Elections Week:

Clean Elections represents a way out of the pay-to-play system that ensnares so many members of Congress. It presents an alternative way for candidates to run a competitive campaign who want to run on the issues rather then after special interest group cash. Under this system, candidates for office are required to collect a specified number of small contributions, typically $5, to prove that they have support in their community. They then receive public grants to run a competitive campaign for office. If their opponent is privately funded and outspends them, they are eligible for more money up to a limit. They are also often eligible for more money if faced with outside advertising.

Clean Elections has been in place for statewide and legislative races in Maine and Arizona since 2000 and for judicial races in North Carolina since 2004. Four other states and two cities have adopted Clean Elections for all or some of their races: Connecticut; New Jersey; New Mexico; Vermont; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Portland, Oregon.

Clean Elections is popular among candidates. In Arizona this year, 60 percent of the candidates are running "Clean." Ten out of 11 of the lawmakers serving in state-wide office ran using public financing. In Maine, 78 percent of the current legislature ran using public funding. From the voters' perspective, they are able to choose from a more diverse group of candidates and see more competition for office.

In the House, Reps. John Tierney and Raul Grijalva are lead sponsors of H.R. 3099, which would establish public financing of elections for House races. A similar bill for the Senate is expected to be introduced soon. In California, voters will have the chance in November to vote for Proposition 89, the Clean Money and Fair Elections Initiative, which would establish public financing of elections for all statewide and legislative races in the state.

We don't need people the pay to play system, we need elected officials and candidates who work for the people, not big money special interests. We need Proposition 89.