Monday, December 05, 2005

New Haven Wants Public Financing for 2007 Mayoral Race

This is pretty interesting stuff:

When state lawmakers passed a sweeping overhaul of Connecticut's campaign finance laws this month, they included a provision allowing up to three municipalities to try systems for using public funds for elections. The provision would take effect after next year's elections.
Aldermen voted 21-0 to ask the state to include New Haven's mayoral race in the pilot program. (AP)

These three 2007 municipal elections will be the first tests of the new public financing system. New Haven ought to give us a very good idea of just how hard it is for third party candidates to get public financing. Expect a publicly financed Green, at the very least. I have to imagine that many, many Democrats will enter the primary. Could be a free-for-all. A DeStefano victory the November before would make things even crazier, but that's just a hypothetical right now.

The lock that Democrats have on the city will doubtless stay in place, but perhaps public financing can bring a measure of competition to New Haven races.


"New Haven wants to try publicly funded campaigns." Associated Press 5 December, 2005.


Anonymous said...

hey, why not put the politicians on the local's not like they don;t need money for potholes and cops

DeanFan84 said...

New Haven voted in favor of Public Financing a couple of years ago. But, we could never get the enabling legislation through the Statehouse.

My understanding is that this is for the Mayoral contest only. There will be no public financing of Aldermanic races.

The eariest legislation implied a questionable 3:1 match. And it had a very low bar that would encourage the marginal candidates.

IMHO, this won't change New Haven politics. But it might discredit Public Financing. Hopefully the New Haven BOA will set a higher bar, such that things can't be gamed.

Independent1 said...

It will be interesting to see the reaction of the left when the right wing nuts (e.g. "Concerned Citizens for Immigration Reform" in Danbury) start qualifying for public funds and spewing their version of the Truth. It's great when the Greens and Deans make it, but just look at the Sheehan/Coulter debate at UConn. I don't think anyone can really anticipate where this will all go.

Aldon Hynes said...

Independent1 sagely raises the question of how liberals will feel when ‘right wing nuts’ start qualifying for public funds. I do expect that some liberals will be outraged.

I hope not. I do expect groups like “Concerned Citizens for Immigration Reform” and “Family Institute of Connecticut” will get candidates to run and qualify for public funds. I also expect liberals to talk persuasively about the issues that matter. I believe in true Jeffersonian democracy. A well-informed public is essential to democracy and so a good debate between the ‘right wing nuts’ and liberals will be a good thing, IMHO.

The real question is if this will be effective. DeanFan84 notes that this won’t apply to Aldermanic races. He expresses concern that it won’t bring about real changes, and thereby discredit public financing. It is a valid concern and I hope he is wrong.

It is also worth noting that when the ‘right wing nuts’ run for office, they won’t be able to do it as Anonymous.

Anonimity Breeds Contempt said...

Are we positive that this new arrangment is only going to be applied to the Mayor race?

When public funding gets funneled to races for Town Clerk, Constable, and Alderman, that when it will start to get really interesting.

Imagine the possibilies! It will be a free-for-all for public dollars.

"The Annonymous will inherit the Earth."

Aldon Hynes said...

According to the AP, "Aldermen voted 21-0 to ask the state to include New Haven's mayoral race in the pilot program. Details have yet to be worked out. "

Julio Gonzalez said...

The consensus version that many of the leading alders support is not a conventional 3:1 match, like many of the other American municipalities public financing systems. Instead, it matches the first $25 dollars. This is much more progressive. In our research we found that well-heeled candidates that raised the maximum contribution ($300 under the consensus New Haven proposal) they got the most of the public money.

We wanted to encourage small contributions and broader involvement beyond big donors. We also wanted the bulk of the public investment in democratic competition to go towards empowering average people, not amplifying large donor advantages.

The minimum number of contributions was based on a historical analysis of all of the previous Mayoral races. We found that it would be a challenge for a fringe candidate to get over 300 UNIQUE $25 donors. Perhaps this will change over time as more people get accustomed to giving "seed" money to their preferred candidate - but that would be a great thing. If there are to many fringe candidates, then like in other municipalities, the Board might increase the qualification threshold.

Finally, to that naysayer that said policicians shouldn't be on the "dole," I'll point out that the cost of this system is about a fifth of what is already spent by the New Haven Registrar of Voters running election operations. Like it or not, the Connecticut public already believes that they should have some ownership over elections and pays tax dollars to make it happen. In places like South Carolina, political parties actually have to pay the full cost of election operations - from the booth to the poll workers. Talk about limiting choice and competition!

Anonymous said...

Big deal. New Haven will still be a one party sandbox where every politician will scream the rest of the state doesn't adequately subsidize all their pipe dreams.

And of course, it will be the 3.3 million people across the rest of CT who are wrong, since all collective wisdom is instilled in the 119,000 people who hae yet to flee our progressive paradise.

Anonymous said...

All this would finance is the inter-party fight in New Haven's democratic party.

Dave Mooney said...

...which is exactly how elections go down in NH anyway since it is full of Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Waterbury wants it as well.

Anonymous said...

will this be paid in cash?