CourierPostOnline

Legislators Should Fund Clean Election Program

Including primaries and third-party candidates can help mute the influence of special interests

CourierPostOnline — Friday, June 13, 2008

Opinion

Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, D-Camden, has proposed to roll out a third version of the state's clean election program that would provide public money for primaries and, finally, equal funding for third-party candidates.

Greenwald, who participated in the first clean election experiment in 2005, has continued to push the concept – despite problems in the past with impractical limits on fundraising and challengers having trouble meeting qualifications for public funding.

Yet, we urge state lawmakers to keep moving forward on this effort to limit the influence of deep-pocket contributors and special interests. Clean elections require candidates to seek small donations from average residents to qualify for public funding. The proposal for a 2009 clean election campaign also acknowledges that, in some districts dominated by Democrats or Republicans, the competitive race happens in the primary. For the first time, public funds would be available for qualifying candidates in up to eight selected districts, with equal funding for third-party candidates.

This proposal moves New Jersey another step toward elections determined by average voters, instead of big-money interests. Lawmakers should support another round of the clean elections program. The goal should be clean up all New Jersey elections.

Copyright 2008 Courier-Post

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