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    Sunday, September 25, 2022

    Majority of region’s local legislators opt for public financing of their campaigns

    Most of Southeastern Connecticut’s state House and Senate candidates have qualified for public financing, with the exception of a few who will self-finance their campaigns or spend little to no money.

    In general, and with some caveats, state representative candidates can receive between $13,000 and $33,000 depending on when they apply, and candidates for state Senate can receive between $45,000 and $112,000. The money is spent on campaign functions such as advertising and staffing.

    The Citizens’ Election Program, financed mostly by the sale of abandoned property owned by the state, “provides clean elections financing to qualified candidates for statewide offices and the General Assembly,” according to the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

    According to the SEEC, the program is meant to allow candidates to run without relying on special interest money and gives legislators “the ability to make decisions free of the influence of, or the appearance that they have been influenced by, donations from special interests,” to instill public confidence and increase participation in the political process, and it provides transparency to campaign finances.

    The candidates who qualified for the public financing and already have received their grants include: State Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, Democrat Nick Menapace, her opponent for the 37th district, state Rep. Kathleen McCarty, R-Waterford, Democrat Nick Gauthier, her opponent for the 38th district, 39th District state Rep. Anthony Nolan, D-New London, 40th District state Rep. Christine Conley, D-Groton, 41st District Democratic candidate Aundré Bumgardner, his Republican opponent Robert Boris, 43rd District state Rep. Greg Howard, R-Stonington, his opponent, Democrat Ashley Gillece, 45th District state Rep. Brian Lanoue, R-Griswold, 46th district candidates Derell Wilson, a Democrat, and Robert Bell, a Republican, 47th district candidate Democrat David Nowakowski, 139th District state Rep. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville, 18th District state Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, her opponent, Democrat Farouk Rajab, District 19 state Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, Democratic candidate for the 20th Senate district Martha Marx, her Republican opponent Jerry Labriola, state Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Lyme and his Democratic opponent for the 23rd district seat Colin Heffernan.

    In order to qualify for a grant, candidates must demonstrate public support by meeting a fundraising threshold with contributions between $5 and $290.

    Several candidates who have not received public financing were designated by the SEEC as “active-exempt,” meaning a candidate filed an exemption to forming a committee “because they are entirely self-financed, will receive and spend less than $1,000, are running as part of a slate with a town committee or a political committee, or will raise and spend no money.”

    Those candidates include Republican Karen Paul, who is running against Anthony Nolan for his 39th district seat, Independent Lauren Gauthier and Republican Scott Westervelt, who are both running against incumbent Conley for the 40th district seat, Democrat Kayla Thompson, who is running against incumbent Lanoue for the 45th district seat, and unaffiliated candidate James Dunigan, who is running against Boris and Bumgardner for the 41st district seat.

    Three other local candidates did not receive the grant: 33rd District state Sen. Norm Needleman, D-Essex, 47th District state Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin and Mark Adams, who is the Republican candidate running against Ryan for the 139th district seat.

    Dubitsky said in a text message that his campaign submitted the application “long ago,” and were told “the state is swamped with applications, causing delays in processing. Until they clear their backlog, all I can do is wait.”

    Needleman said in a text message that he is self-financing his campaign.

    “I don’t trust that there won’t be outside money brought in against me as happened in 2016 and 2018,” he said.

    s.spinella@theday.com

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