The Senate has given its approval to a bill intended to make publicly financed political campaigns more viable. By a vote of 19 to 6, Senate lawmakers Friday approved S.220, a bill that moves up the date a candidate seeking public financing can start a campaign, which supporters say will allow these candidates to better compete with those who are privately financed. “My feeling is, we shouldn’t privilege publicly financed candidates, but we shouldn’t punish them, either,” said Sen. Philip Baruth, D-Chittenden, the lead sponsor of the bill. The punishment Baruth is referring to is the amount of lead time a privately financed candidate has over one seeking public financing.
While a privately funded candidate may declare his or her intent to run for office and begin raising money at any time, a candidate seeking public financing must wait until the Feb. 15 before the November election.
“It takes away the selective advantage of someone who says, I’ll run and have a six-month head start on someone who is gong to use public campaign financing,” Zuckerman said of the bill. “The main goal for me, because this doesn’t apply to my campaign, is to make publicly financed campaigns a viable option.”