Maine Lawmakers and Candidates Come to NC to Offer Details on Public Funding

Apr 16, 2001, 01:00 ET from North Carolina Center for Voter Education

    RALEIGH, N.C., April 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The North Carolina Center for
 Voter Education today issued the following:
 
     Tuesday morning the North Carolina legislature will have three new
 lobbyists working the corridors of power.  But these are not your run-of-the-
 mill lobbyists.  They are state legislators from Maine, who are on a two-day
 visit to Raleigh to familiarize members of the NC General Assembly with the
 nuts and bolts of campaign finance reform.  Their visit is being sponsored by
 the North Carolina Center for Voter Education, a nonpartisan nonprofit group
 working to improve elections across the state.
     Representatives Bill Norbert and Tina Baker both won their elections in
 November using Maine's new public funding system.  Jolene Lovejoy was a
 Republican candidate who employed the voluntary system of campaign funding in
 her bid for the Maine House.  Ms. Lovejoy lost her legislative bid but remains
 a strong supporter of the "clean elections" established by public funding.
     "What we have here is amazing," said Chris Heagarty, Executive Director of
 the Center for Voter Education.  "It's campaign finance reform that works.
 Campaign spending is down.  Elections were won by candidates working for the
 public interest, not for special interests.  Maine is seeing the benefits of a
 liberated legislature, and we could too."
     One-third of Maine's legislature was elected under this voter owned
 elections system, which shuts out special interest campaign contributors and
 lets average citizens run for office.  Statistics from the first election
 cycle in which Maine used the voter owned election model shows there was
 increased participation and competition, and that candidates who used public
 funding experienced a high degree of success:
 
     Maine saw:
     * A 40% increase in the number of contested primaries
     * An increase in the number of women running for office
     * In the Senate, 17 of 35 members (49%) won using public funding
     * In the House, 45 of 151 members (30%) won using public funding
     * More than half - 54% - of candidates using public funding won their
       election
 
     "These folks are down here to talk to legislators one-on-one," Heagarty
 said.  "They will testify that a public funding system can work, that it can
 help any candidate - Democrat or Republican, challenger or incumbent - to take
 their campaign directly to the people and liberate themselves from chasing
 special interest money."
     Heagarty cited a recent public opinion survey conducted for the Center for
 Voter Education shows 91% of North Carolinians think that campaign
 contributors hold sway over the public policy decisions their elected
 officials make, and 72% think candidates for public office spend more time
 raising money than solving North Carolina's problems.  The same poll found
 that more people would vote for a candidate using tax dollars than for a
 candidate using private, special interest money, if all other factors were
 equal.
     The visiting campaign finance reform advocates ride into Raleigh on a wave
 of momentum.  With McCain-Feingold passing the Senate a few weeks ago in
 Washington and the release of a new statewide poll showing overwhelming public
 support for reform in North Carolina, campaign finance reform deserves
 attention from lawmakers in this legislative session.
 
 

SOURCE North Carolina Center for Voter Education
    RALEIGH, N.C., April 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The North Carolina Center for
 Voter Education today issued the following:
 
     Tuesday morning the North Carolina legislature will have three new
 lobbyists working the corridors of power.  But these are not your run-of-the-
 mill lobbyists.  They are state legislators from Maine, who are on a two-day
 visit to Raleigh to familiarize members of the NC General Assembly with the
 nuts and bolts of campaign finance reform.  Their visit is being sponsored by
 the North Carolina Center for Voter Education, a nonpartisan nonprofit group
 working to improve elections across the state.
     Representatives Bill Norbert and Tina Baker both won their elections in
 November using Maine's new public funding system.  Jolene Lovejoy was a
 Republican candidate who employed the voluntary system of campaign funding in
 her bid for the Maine House.  Ms. Lovejoy lost her legislative bid but remains
 a strong supporter of the "clean elections" established by public funding.
     "What we have here is amazing," said Chris Heagarty, Executive Director of
 the Center for Voter Education.  "It's campaign finance reform that works.
 Campaign spending is down.  Elections were won by candidates working for the
 public interest, not for special interests.  Maine is seeing the benefits of a
 liberated legislature, and we could too."
     One-third of Maine's legislature was elected under this voter owned
 elections system, which shuts out special interest campaign contributors and
 lets average citizens run for office.  Statistics from the first election
 cycle in which Maine used the voter owned election model shows there was
 increased participation and competition, and that candidates who used public
 funding experienced a high degree of success:
 
     Maine saw:
     * A 40% increase in the number of contested primaries
     * An increase in the number of women running for office
     * In the Senate, 17 of 35 members (49%) won using public funding
     * In the House, 45 of 151 members (30%) won using public funding
     * More than half - 54% - of candidates using public funding won their
       election
 
     "These folks are down here to talk to legislators one-on-one," Heagarty
 said.  "They will testify that a public funding system can work, that it can
 help any candidate - Democrat or Republican, challenger or incumbent - to take
 their campaign directly to the people and liberate themselves from chasing
 special interest money."
     Heagarty cited a recent public opinion survey conducted for the Center for
 Voter Education shows 91% of North Carolinians think that campaign
 contributors hold sway over the public policy decisions their elected
 officials make, and 72% think candidates for public office spend more time
 raising money than solving North Carolina's problems.  The same poll found
 that more people would vote for a candidate using tax dollars than for a
 candidate using private, special interest money, if all other factors were
 equal.
     The visiting campaign finance reform advocates ride into Raleigh on a wave
 of momentum.  With McCain-Feingold passing the Senate a few weeks ago in
 Washington and the release of a new statewide poll showing overwhelming public
 support for reform in North Carolina, campaign finance reform deserves
 attention from lawmakers in this legislative session.
 
 SOURCE  North Carolina Center for Voter Education