New London Green candidate qualifies for public campaign funding

The State Elections Enforcement Commission on Wednesday approved the first state public campaign grant to a Green Party candidate in the 12-year-history of the Citizens’ Election Program.

Mirna Martinez, a school board member and New London Green Party candidate for the vacant 39th House District seat in New London, qualified for $14,075 in funding. She is the third of four candidates to qualify for funding through the grant program leading up to a Feb. 26 special election.

Democratic candidate Anthony Nolan and Republican candidate Kat Goulart previously qualified for a $21,112 grant through the same program. Democrat Jason Catala, who is running as a petitioning candidate, has indicated he would not seek the grant. The deadline for grant applications was Friday.

All four candidates are seeking to fill a vacancy left by Chris Soto, who resigned to take a job with Gov. Ned Lamont's administration.

The CEP is a voluntary program that allows qualifying candidates to receive public financing in regular and special elections. To qualify, candidates must demonstrate they have what the commission deems "adequate support from the public." In special elections for state representatives, candidates must raise $3,800 in contributions, not to exceed $250 each, from at least 113 individuals residing within their district.

There are several ways for third-party candidates to qualify for the grant, based on past support or petitioning. Martinez qualified for two-thirds of the full grant by collecting signatures equal to votes totaling 15 percent or more of the number of people who voted in the last election. In a statement, Martinez's campaign said she collected more than the 660 signatures needed.  

Third-party candidates who receive less than the full grant amount can continue to raise and spend additional contributions, known as “differential contributions.” However, they must meet the criteria for qualifying contributions, which is up to the amount of the full applicable grant for the special election for that office, an SEEC spokesman said.

Martinez was endorsed by the national Our Revolution organization, a group influenced by Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, that endorses candidates with progressive agendas.

 g.smith@theday.com

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