Praise for Public Financing

While the number of seats that changed hands really isn’t much different than in previous years, there was high praise for Connecticut’s new system of public financing at a hearing held by SEEC on Wednesday. Another hearing will be held on December 5th.

Some political observers said Wednesday [political newcomer Karen Houghtaling] wouldn’t have been able to wage such a tough fight against Rep. John “Corky” Mazurek if not for Connecticut’s new, voluntary public financing system.

“Here’s a person who was interested in running in her democracy. She had the chance to run,” said Rep. Christopher L. Caruso, D-Bridgeport, co-chairman of the legislature’s elections committee. “Under the old system of ad books and money from lobbyists and special interests, she wouldn’t have had the money to do it.”
[…]
For the most part, both successful and unsuccessful candidates, and their campaign managers, had high praise for the system — considered the most far-reaching state public financing system in the country. (AP)

This is good to see. Certainly the number of uncontested seats went down this year, and I think that as knowledge of the program grows, the number of primaries and upsets will start ticking upwards as well.

2010 will be the real test of the system, especially as statewide offices are contested.

Certainly one of John DeStefano’s major problems in 2006 was his lack of money, especially in the general election campaign. He had spent so much of his money trying to defeat Dan Malloy that he had very little left to take on the well-funded Gov. Rell. Other incumbent constitutional officers were able to bury their opponents with cash, but that shouldn’t be the case in the upcoming cycle.

I’m looking forward to it. The system survived with relatively few glitches, and I heard a lot of positive things from candidates about it. Certainly participation was high–not many candidates actively decided to forgo the grants. If it can pass the test 2010 presents, I think we’ll have one of the best ways to finance our democracy around.

Source
Haigh, Susan. “Feedback sought on Conn. campaign finance.” Associated Press 20 November, 2008.

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15 responses to “Praise for Public Financing

  1. How many dollars were spent and will be spent on this system. I think that with a state deficit of close to $6 billion for the next bienium we can spend our money more wisely than on political races.

  2. I don’t know the exact amount. If someone can get me figures, I’d greatly appreciate it. However, by my calculations, the cost of the public financing of State Elections in 2008 was around ten million dollars, or less then one tenth of one percent of the state budget.

    Yet, this is miss leading in a few different ways. First, the money is not coming from the budget. Instead it is coming from unclaimed property.

    More importantly, it doesn’t include the budgets our municipalities have for education. Does anyone have the total we are spending on public education in our state? I believe we are spending something like $372 million on public education in Hartford alone.

    Do I think it is a good use of money to provide candidates $10 million to educate voters on the issues our state faces and how they would address them? It may not be the most effective way to fund civic education, but I sure think it is better than having the Tomasso brothers fund civic education

  3. Coming from unclaimed property? And I thought the State was safeguarding those funds to protect the rightful owners from those evil predators in the private sector. See the following from the Treasurer’s Web Site:
    ” In Connecticut, the Office of State Treasurer collects and safeguards money and other valuables which have been unclaimed by Connecticut residents for a specific period of time, generally three to five years.”

    Silly me.

  4. [quote post=”2366″]Do I think it is a good use of money to provide candidates $10 million to educate voters on the issues our state faces and how they would address them? It may not be the most effective way to fund civic education, but I sure think it is better than having the Tomasso brothers fund civic education [/quote]
    The number one thing candidates said to me about public financing was that it gave them an awful lot more time to go out and meet voters. To me, that makes it worthwhile.

  5. $10 million may not be a lot of money (it’s about $3 per person in the state), but you’re playing smoke and mirrors when you say that it was from this unclaimed property source and not taxes revenues. Because without public financing, the state would have that $10 million to spend on something else.

    About the principle of the whole thing, it does not seem right that the state government spends money to help people get elected. Just because candidates can spend more time going out and meeting voters doesn’t make it worthwhile.

    However, there are a lot bigger fish to fry than this. We’re facing a budget deficit of several billion dollars over the next few years. Fixing it is going to require making some tough choices. We let our government get way too big, and rely on a relatively small segment of the population for a large portion of the funding. Now that small segment isn’t making as much, so there’s not as much to tax.

  6. In my district the Republican Candidate for re-electrion ran unnopposed, but applied for and received funding. This in addition to the State Legislative printing and mailing perk, though not used after September.
    Her then came out publicly in opposition to the program.

    This is what we need in Hartford…Politicians at the public trough, and publicly decrying its existance and use.

    The sooner we get of who got what, the better.

  7. >>Some political observers said Wednesday [political newcomer Karen Houghtaling] wouldn’t have been able to wage such a tough fight against Rep. John “Corky” Mazurek if not for Connecticut’s new, voluntary public financing system

    “tough fight” ???

    She withdrew from the race; her name wasn’t even on the ballot.

  8. According to the Secretary of States office Rep. John “Corky” Mazurek received 563 votes in the August 12th primary and Karen Houghtaling received 489 votes.

    http://www.sots.ct.gov/sots/lib/sots/electionservices/electionresults/2008_election_results/2008_primary_results_&_turnout.pdf

    I’d say that counts as a tough fight, especially if ACR is right in claiming her name wasn’t even on the ballot.

  9. Dempsey Dem: Why didn’t you run in opposition to your State Rep? With public financing, you might have been able to make a difference.

  10. [quote post=”2366″]However, there are a lot bigger fish to fry than this. We’re facing a budget deficit of several billion dollars over the next few years. Fixing it is going to require making some tough choices. We let our government get way too big, and rely on a relatively small segment of the population for a large portion of the funding. Now that small segment isn’t making as much, so there’s not as much to tax.[/quote]

    You’re right about this. Now, how do we get candidates who can make the tough choices to run? It seems to me that public financing of campaigns is a step in the right direction.

  11. [quote post=”2366″]While the number of seats that changed hands really isn’t much different than in previous years, there was high praise for Connecticut’s new system of public financing[/quote]
    So instead of incumbents having to work the phones, network and armtwist contacts to get reelected, they just suck the money to get reelected directly from the taxpayers. Progress!

  12. [quote comment=”38662″]According to the Secretary of States office Rep. John “Corky” Mazurek received 563 votes in the August 12th primary and Karen Houghtaling received 489 votes.

    http://www.sots.ct.gov/sots/lib/sots/electionservices/electionresults/2008_election_results/2008_primary_results_&_turnout.pdf

    I’d say that counts as a tough fight, especially if ACR is right in claiming her name wasn’t even on the ballot.[/quote]

    She also went to the trouble of petitioning herself onto the ballot; but had her name withdrawn.

    She had never registered to vote prior to this either and her “effort” had nothing to do with public financing and everything to do with the UAW who Mazurek had somehow offended.

    It’s unclear is she made so much as a single phone call herself.

  13. You’re right about this. Now, how do we get candidates who can make the tough choices to run? It seems to me that public financing of campaigns is a step in the right direction.

    So how is public financing going to give us better candidates? The vast majority of people just elected to the state house and state senate are the same people we’ve had before, before the public financing laws came into effect.

  14. [quote comment=”38653″]In my district the Republican Candidate for re-electrion
    [/quote]

    “re-electrion”??

    This the guy?

  15. [quote comment=”38683″]You’re right about this. Now, how do we get candidates who can make the tough choices to run? It seems to me that public financing of campaigns is a step in the right direction.

    So how is public financing going to give us better candidates? The vast majority of people just elected to the state house and state senate are the same people we’ve had before, before the public financing laws came into effect.[/quote]

    Yeah, how about that? Most people seem to be re-electing their incumbents even when the opponent is on equal footing financially. Wild.

    Maybe constant upheaval is not, in the minds of the voting population, the common good you seem to think it is. It could be that financing reform is meant to instead give lobbyists fewer opportunities to curry favor and influence with our elected officials.

    Also, I think that public financing goes a long way towards putting to rest the notion that “Candidate X would win based on their superior ideas”, which prevails on both sides of the ideological spectrum. If you don’t do the work, it doesn’t matter if you have the money or the media coverage or whatever else — you won’t win.

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