Tuesday, April 06, 2004
As I noted in the March 25 Daily Post, spending in local elections in Portland, Oregon is going through the roof. Here are two new stories from the Oregonian and The Portland Herald.
Apparently, even after adjusting for inflation, spending on Portland elections has increased three to four fold since the 1970s. The candidate who has raised the most money has won 97 out of the last 108 elections -- about ninety percent of the time.
You have to wonder if voters feel better informed about the issues as a result of the increased spending, or if they have been turned away from politics instead. Janice Thompson, who heads a group called the Money in Politics Research and Action Project says that "It creates a situation where people get disgusted and wonder, 'Why should I bother to vote when those people making the campaign contributions are the ones who have the real say?' " Janice's group found that one incumbent (who is proposing the reform) raised money from much larger donors once in office than he did when he first ran.
The City Council will consider a reform proposal tomorrow, Wed. April 7 at 10 AM. The idea would be that candidates who accept no private money would receive public financing after they qualify by showing significant grassroots support. If you live in Portland, you should stop by. The outgoing mayor strongly supports reform, so that should help.