Debating Clean Elections

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It’s down to the wire and candidates on both sides of the political aisle are trading barbs on corruption and campaign contributions.

In the race for the 51st district in the New York Senate, Democratic challenger Don Barber and Sen. Jim Seward (R) sparred at a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters this week. Barber accused his opponent of bowing to the influence of special interests giving to his campaign when working in the Senate. Sewer attacked Barber for receiving so much money from out of state for his campaign. On Clean Elections, Barber supports it but Steward does not.

Further north in Maine, candidates vying for the Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine), also sparred over campaign contributions. Chellie Pingree, a former Maine state legislator talked about the need to bring a public financing system similar to Maine’s to Congress. Her opponent, Charlie Summers, criticized Pingree about her campaign contributions.

Just last week in Connecticut, Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) and challenger Jim Himes debated public financing as an alternative to the high cost of running for office.

These are just a few examples of how the role of campaign contributions has seeped into debates and political campaigns this cycle. All sides have been highlighting their opponent’s connections to big interests. The real test will be what happens when these officials go to their state house or to Congress.