Asbury Park Press

GOP Chief Selects 13th District For "Clean Elections" Project

Asbury Park Press — Tuesday, June 28, 2005

BY ANDREA ALEXANDER
KEYPORT BUREAU

Although state Republican Chairman Tom Wilson expressed deep reservations about a Clean Elections Pilot Project that provides some public financing for elections, he agreed to designate the 13th District for the program.

The project required the Republican Party state chairman to pick one pilot district from the 9th, 11th or 13th legislative races by Monday. The Democratic chairman was required to choose among the 6th, 7th and 15th districts.

Monmouth County Freeholder Amy H. Handlin and Assemblyman Samuel D. Thompson are running on the Republican ticket against Democrats William Flynn and Michael Dasaro to represent the 13th District in the state Assembly.

The candidates are not required to participate in the clean elections program and could decide to raise money on their own. But candidates from both sides said they welcomed the designation.

Candidates who decide to accept the "clean" label will get up to $50,000 in public funding. If an opponent refuses the public funds, the candidate accepting the funds will be entitled to up to $100,000 in public financing.

To qualify for public money, candidates have to meet specific fund-raising requirements. Candidates would have 60 days to raise 1,500 contributions in specific denominations of $5 or $30, Wilson said. Candidates must also promise not to accept any further political donations from party bosses, special-interest groups or individuals.

"I am ecstatic," said Dasaro, 30, of Keansburg. "I think money is far too interjected in politics."

The law does not protect candidates from attacks launched by a third party or organization funded separately from the candidates, Wilson said.

"If I were a candidate, I wouldn't participate," Wilson said. "I don't believe the law as written is going to provide adequate protection."

Candidates would receive $50,000 to defend themselves against a third party attack, but Wilson said that would not be enough to fund a sufficient response.

This story contains material from previous Press stories.

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