Political Radar


February 17th, 2014

Good government advocates are optimistic that legislation that would give political candidates a public-financing option will move this session.

The state House Judiciary Committee advanced a bill last week that would create a public-financing program for state House candidates. The bill is scheduled before the House Finance Committee on Wednesday.

Advocates believe public financing will help lessen the influence of money in the political process.

But as has been pointed out previously, many of the arguments in favor of public financing of elections appear to apply generically to politics, not specifically to the state House.

Advocates' depiction of big special interest money -- a "tsunami of cash" -- propping up entrenched House incumbents does not square with the record.

Researchers at the state Campaign Spending Commission have found that the average cost to win a House race has not changed much since 1994. In the 2012 elections, winning House candidates spent an average $36,468, compared to $33,051 in 1994.

What about turnover?

Twenty five of the 51 House lawmakers from the 2008 session have left the chamber for one reason or another, a 49 percent turnover in five years.

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