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December 22, 2006

Why Stop with Public Financing of Judicial Races?

In the news this week about the governor's budget, plus the weather and the Christmas season, I'm guessing that some of us missed the news that Governor Gregoire is going to ask for public financing of Court of Appeals and Supreme Court races.  Both the PI and the Times covered it when she introduced it on Tuesday.  She included $4.4 million in her state budget proposal for the bill.

I applaud the direction.  My question is, "Why stop there?"  The timing is good to jump on public financing for the judicial races given the insane amounts of money that was spent on the three Supreme Court races between the primary and the general elections.  I understand that.  Plus, Gregoire is cautious by disposition.  But what an opportunity to go all the way and ask for public financing of all statewide and legislative races. 

As it is, only one state so far has public financing for judicial races alone - North Carolina.  Two states - Maine and Arizona - have public financing for all statewide and legislative races.  Candidates don't have to sign up for it but year by year more do.  It works in so many ways, giving legislators more time to govern and providing a more level playing field for a more diverse field of candidates.   Several other states are considering switching over. 

The legislature will have the opportunity to discuss the possibilities.  Shay Schual-Berke, a Democrat from Normandy Park will be introducing the governor's proposed bill plus some reforms that the PDC has been looking for.  Mark Miloscia, Democrat from Federal Way, will introduce the more comprehensive bill, proposing public financing for all statewide and legislative races. 

I say bring it on.  I look forward to a robust public discussion of this incredibly important issue.  If you would like more information on public financing, a relatively new organization in Washington State, Washington Public Campaigns, has been gearing up to move this issue forward.  The governor has provided the opening.  Let's drive it on through!

ALSO:  Chad (the Left) Shue reminds us in the comments that "there will be 4 Town Hall type forums on this very issue beginning on January 4th in Everett and moving south to Olympia by Saturday, January 6th. The event on Friday night in Seattle will feature David Sirota, author of "Hostile Takeover"."

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 22, 2006 at 05:21 PM in Policy, Washington Culture | Permalink

Comments

I don't see why they don't just repeat what they were trying to do last year, reinstate the local option for public financing. There is enough political support to give judicial races a try, why not simply give local communities back the power they had to publicly finance their own races? And, when a few large cities or counties (say Pierce Co. who has had some recent experience with approving election experiments)have decent track records, give the entire state a try?

Posted by: Emmett O'Connell | Dec 23, 2006 8:24:17 AM

As a matter of fact WPC will be re-introducing the "local elections" bill AND a comprehensive bill that would allow for public financing of all statewide, judicial, and legislative races.

As you will see on the WPC website there will be 4 Town Hall type forums on this very issue beginning on January 4th in Everett and moving south to Olympia by Saturday, January 6th. The event on Friday night in Seattle will feature David Sirota, author of "Hostile Takeover".

Peace,
Chad (The Left) Shue

Posted by: Chad (The Left) Shue | Dec 23, 2006 9:43:51 AM

Why Stop with Public Financing of Judicial Races?

In selecting public representatives, we pick our leaders (champions) using the ballot. But it certainly makes a great deal of sense to change a system by implementing Public Financing when our current system produces so many smear campaigns. Currently candidate campaigns are too long, too costly, too repetitive and too ladened with uninformative dirty advertising.

But with judges we are looking for a Solomon with competency a greater requirement than advocacy. Consider that about half of the States use a Commission form of judicial selection with the final pick by the Governor and a retention election at the end of the term.

It is difficult to dismiss what happened this year when a Special Interest tried to gain a seat on the Supreme Court by pumping large amounts of money into the campaign. Many say, "We stopped them." I say, "This time!" What happens when charismatic candidates with a well financed, experienced and able campaign seek judicial seats? Perhaps a different result - a Supreme Court beholdened to Special Interests? The most competent candidate does not always win an election and judicial mistakes are not easily reformed.

Is that what is meant by "Hostile Takeover?" Why Stop with Public Financing of Judicial Races? I ask myself the same questions!

jack smith

Posted by: jack smith | Dec 26, 2006 10:02:46 PM

I don't think anyone's advocating for "stopping" with judicial races -- we're advocating that we *start* with judicial races, because it's timely and salient right now.

Posted by: Jon Stahl | Dec 29, 2006 8:40:50 AM

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