In the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that struck down a public campaign financing provision in Arizona, states with similar laws are weighing their next steps.
North Carolina became the first state, in 2002, to provide full public financing for judicial campaigns. It has a provision like the “trigger funds” mechanism that was voided by the Supreme Court (see Gavel Grab).
Successes of North Carolina’s systems were spotlighted in a Greensboro News & Record blog: “Before public financing, a couple of chief justice candidates — Henry Frye and Bev Lake — each spent in the ballpark of $1 million in 2000. Now most statewide judicial candidates are taking public funding of around $250,000. Even better, there hasn’t been a flood of special-interest money barging into the picture, either.”
If North Carolina’s law is successfully challenged in court, or if the legislature moves the mechanism from existing law, there may be a “crippling effect” on public financing, the blog suggested.
A different view was offered by Damon Circosta, executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education, in a Burlington Times News report. “The public financing system will continue,” he said. “Just matching funds will not be available.”
Circosta, whose group is a JAS partner, told North Carolina News Network, “It won’t make a big difference either which way on who decides to opt-in to public financing and who does not,” He added, “I’m still thinking we’re going to see robust participation from candidates from all across the political spectrum – incumbents, challengers, men, women.” (more…)