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Voters Send a Message About Self-Financed Candidates in New Jersey and New York City
Election Results Show that Voters Expect More than a Big Bank Account
"Voters sent a message on Election Day: they are tired of self-financed, Wall Street-connected candidates. Mayor Mike Bloomberg was expected to win by a wide margin, but he barely crossed the 50 percent mark after spending well more than $100 million running for re-election. Governor Jon Corzine easily outspent his opponents, but the tens of millions he spent became an issue in the election. In both cases, the challengers were participants in public funding programs that provided them substantial resources to be able to reach voters with their message.
"While the New Jersey gubernatorial and the New York City mayoral public funding systems fall short of what other successful programs provide in resources, there is no doubt that Bill Thompson in New York City would not have come as close as he did, nor would Chris Christie have had the ability to respond to negative advertising, without these public financing systems in place.
"It's time for states-and Congress-to look at alternatives to the current system that lets us choose between millionaires and those who have to raise money from millionaires. We need Fair Elections-style reform, which blends small dollar donors and limited public financing to give challengers the ability to run a competitive campaign against well-heeled challengers.
"History has shown that self-funded candidates rarely win, but in today's political system, candidates that have the cash to spare are becoming increasingly attractive. Last night's results show that voters expect more out of a politician than simply being able to bankroll their own campaigns.
"In Congress, the Fair Elections Now Act is gaining momentum. The legislation would free candidates for Congress from the money chase and empower small donors. With Fair Elections, candidates can take office unencumbered by the agendas and expectations of large donors."