Pride or the PAC

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Just as presidential candidates must choose between principle and viability when it comes to opting into the public financing program, opposition from within his own party and from Democrats in next year's election is forcing Rep. Wayne Gilchrest to abandon his opposition to taking PAC money just to stay competitive.

Gilchrest wants to keep his seat but well-funded rivals aren't making it easy to do so and stick with his fundraising principles:

[T]he primary campaign could be one of the most expensive in Maryland congressional history. Harris said he has already surpassed the $750,000 mark, and Pipkin spent $2 million of his own in a failed 2004 bid against U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D) of Baltimore.

The article quotes Public Campaign Action Fund's David Donnelly on the evidence this particular race provides for a public financing option for congressional races:

The pricey race prompted Gilchrest to drop his long-held aversion to accepting PAC money at a fundraiser in Washington on Thursday hosted by U.S. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

That decision illustrates the need for public financing in congressional races, said David A. Donnelly, national campaigns director for Public Campaign Action Fund, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that aims to eliminate special-interest money in elections.

‘‘It’s clear that the escalating cost of running for office forces candidates to do things they’d rather not do,” he said. ‘‘The fault here is most squarely placed at the feet of the system itself. There are good people caught in an awful system.”