National Momentum, State Success

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Tom Hester at Newsday notes that New Jersey's efforts to fight political corruption are starting to bear fruit with this year's successful Clean Elections pilot program. He places New Jersey's advances in the context of broader national momentum behind public financing by mentioning North Carolina's recent expansion of its public financing system to include some Council of State races, and Alaska's efforts behind a ballot initiative.

Since 2005, when New Jersey had the first, and by all accounts troubled, run of its Clean Elections pilot program, progress has been made both inside and outside the state to make the current cycle more successful. New Jersey made important changes to the law to make it more accessible to candidates and voters. That, plus enthusiastic supporters in the legislature have led to a great deal of press coverage, which is a vital component in educating the public about the system.

 

Think also of the changes in the national climate since 2005 that have raised the profile of Clean Elections: Connecticut passed its ground-breaking Clean Elections program; North Carolina continues to work to expand its program; Maine and Arizona continue to see high participation rates in their systems; Maryland and Iowa both saw closely fought campaigns for Clean Elections in the legislature; California put a Clean Elections initiative on the ballot; New Mexico passed a judicial public financing program; and advocates in Washington, Montana, Hawaii, West Virginia, Georgia, and Wisconsin kept up their efforts to bring Clean Elections to their state. This, coupled with the introduction of Clean Elections legislation in the Senate and House has given momentum to New Jersey's pilot program this year, the success of which is a tribute to the growing popularity of the public financing solution.