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No campaign bucks for unopposed pols

This newspaper has long advocated public financing of campaigns as a way of reducing the influence of special-interest money on elections and the legislative process. That is why we endorsed the Connecticut Citizens' Election Program, which went into effect for state legislative races two years ago and is available in all state races in 2010.

But there is one thing about the program we don't like and that doesn't make any sense - providing grants to candidates without opponents.

Using a program grant, a participating candidate no longer has to grovel for donations or, once elected, feel beholden to the special interests or individuals who bankrolled the campaign. So providing grants makes sense in contested races, but why does a candidate who can't lose need public money to promote themselves?

Uncontested state Senate candidates can get $26,520, which is substantially below the $88,400 a candidate with an opponent receives, but is still a lot of money. Likewise an unchallenged House candidate can receive $7,800, about one-third the normal amount. Though no candidates in major state races are unopposed, if any were they could get $225,000.

When the legislature returns, we urge it to amend the law so that candidates without opponents are ineligible to receive grants. In the meantime, unopposed candidates should pass on the program and not use public money for needless self-promotion.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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