This article originally provided by The Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram

February 2, 2007

The Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram

John Miller,
Managing Editor

This should be the year for public funding of campaigns

There are two bills before the Legislature that would provide for public funding for state legislative candidates. Supporters say 2007 is a do-or-die year for such a measure because it likely won't get done in 2008 - an election year.

Republican state Sen. Vic Sprouse says public funding is needed because of the ever-increasing campaign arms race.

"The cost of elections in West Virginia are totally out of control," Sprouse told The Associated Press.

He makes a valid point. In 2006, 17 state Senate candidates spent more than $2.8 million. Half of that was spent by candidates who lost in the primary.

In the House of Delegates, candidates for all 100 seats spent $3.8 million. Just about all of that was spent on the primary.

That's an awful lot of money for part-time jobs that pay so little.

As the bills read now, a state fund would dispense up to $35,000 for Senate candidates and up to $22,000 for House candidates. The candidates would have to meet certain criteria and receive a set number of contributions from voters in their districts.

We've supported public funding before, and we continue to do so. It can have positive effects on the state's political process.

Public funding can bring some sanity to our elections, and it can allow an incumbent to spend less time raising money for re-election and more time doing his or her job. Imagine that.

We agree with those who say 2007 is the year to get this done. To do it in an election year would be futile.

But we hope that it can be done right. Secretary of State Betty Ireland wants a workable plan that would be fair and equitable to all involved. If it can be worked out, we think public funding of elections can allow credible candidates without resources to compete with the entrenched politicians with the deep pockets.

James Logue

Voter-Owned Elections

Citizens for Clean Elections P.O. Box 6753 Huntington, WV 25773-6753 304-522-0246