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Who Pays for Elections?

With all the competitive races in Maryland this election season and the requisite fundraising, advocates for the public financing of political campaigns believe their chances are greatly improved this session.

Groups, such as Common Cause and Progressive Maryland, are starting small with legislative races. A bill, sponsored by Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George's) and Del. Jon S. Cardin (D-Baltimore County) would create a voluntary system paid for with proceeds from the state's sale of unclaimed property.

Most lawmakers, said Tom Hucker of Progressive Maryland, don't like fundraising. The measure would allow them to "spend more time with voters and less time at cocktail parties with lobbyists raising money."

To qualify, candidates would have to collect $10 or more from about 280 registered voters in their district or one-quarter of 1 percent of the district's population. In general, qualified candidates for the House would receive $40,000 for a primary and another $40,000 for the general election. Senate candidates would receive $50,000 for each contest.

The cause also has a champion this session in Sen. Paula Hollinger (D-Baltimore County), who speaks from personal experience. Hollinger is running for the 3rd District Congressional seat held by Ben Cardin, who's running for the U.S. Senate.

"The time has come," Hollinger said before a hearing on the bill Friday. "The fundraising has gotten ridiculous for all offices."

Ann Marimow

By Phyllis Jordan  |  March 4, 2006; 3:12 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly  
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Campaign financing is a the dirty little secret that the public doesn't know about. Voters are stupid to think that politicians aren't going to be receptive to the ideas of businesses, developers and lobbyists when they get in office.

Posted by: a former lobbyist | March 4, 2006 6:05 PM | Report abuse

It is indeed time to get private big money out of election politics. Obligatory federal and state funding of election activities would go a long way to returning issues to elections and politicians to the work of governing, instead of fund-raising.

Posted by: kendrita | March 6, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Where is the $10 figure coming from? The bills I saw in the MD House and Senate show a minimum of $5. That's a big difference, especially for independents and third parties.

Posted by: Patrick | March 14, 2006 2:18 PM | Report abuse

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