Poll: Most like public campaign financing
A Zogby International Poll has found a large majority of
state residents favor a public campaign financing
Commissioned by Common Cause, half of those tallied said
they were not aware of the system in Connecticut, which
would apply to statewide offices for the first time this
But when the program was explained, 79 percent said they
favored it, with 58 percent behind fixing those elements
that are being challenged in court so it will be
functioning for the this year's elections.
Eighty-six percent of the 503 people interviewed earlier in
the month agreed lobbyists and political insiders have more
influence than average voters. The poll has a margin of
error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. Common Cause
is a nonpartisan advocacy group that has supported campaign
finance reform for decades.
Likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former
Stamford Mayor Dannel P. Malloy sees the poll results "as a
warning for those candidates who think they can brush aside
the Citizens' Election Program in order to try and buy a
If he officially gets into the race, millionaire Ned
Lamont, a Democrat, is expected to opt out of the system in
order to match GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, who
has already donated $2 million of his own funds to his
campaign. Lamont spent $15 million of his own funds in his
unsuccessful 2006 fight against Joseph I. Lieberman for the
U.S. Senate seat.
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, who dropped her
support for the public program when she decided to run for
attorney general, rather than governor, has come under fire
from her party for that decision. The seven other
candidates and potential gubernatorial candidates in both
parties all support public financing, as do the three
declared secretary of the state candidates.
Karen Hobert Flynn, vice president of state operations for
Common Cause, said the special state representative
election in Stratford March 2 makes it even more important
to fix flaws in the system sooner, rather than later.
The district court found treatment of minor parties
unconstitutional as well as a "trigger" that would pump
more public funds into a campaign to help offset large
personal expenditures by wealthy candidates. A challenge to
the state's ban on lobbyist and contractor contributions
also was heard on appeal.
State law gives lawmakers only seven days from April 15 to
fix the program, if it is thrown out by the court before
that in an election year. If it isn't fixed, it reverts to
pre-2005 rules, when it was heavily dependent on lobbyists'
Because of the special election date however, if the U.S.
Second Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the issue before
March 2 and lifts its stay, lawmakers only have a week from
the earlier date to act, Flynn said. "We shouldn't be
playing a game of chicken," she said.
Flynn said the appeals court recently gave the parties only
10 days to submit briefs on how last week's Supreme Court
ruling on campaign financing affects Connecticut law.
Lawmakers are expected to offer a new bill in early
February that would look to rules in place in New York City
that allow candidates to keep raising small contributions
toward multiple public matches in tight races, rather than
a trigger tied to spending by wealthy candidates. The fix
would eliminate the April 15 reversion rule.
Contact Mary E. O'Leary can be reached at 203-789-5731
See the article on New Haven Register website