(Host) The Progressive candidate for lieutenant governor, Burlington Representative Steve Hingtgen has qualified for public financing for his campaign.
As VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, Hingtgen may be the only statewide candidate who uses public funds this year.
(Kinzel) To qualify for public financing in the lieutenant governor’s race a candidate must raise $17,500 in small contributions from at least 750 Vermonters and no more than 25 percent of the money can come from any one county. It appears that Hingtgen has met all these qualifications. In the last ten weeks he’s received almost $20,000 from slightly over 1,000 contributors.
Hingtgen will be the only candidate in the race for lieutenant governor to seek public funds. Republican incumbent Brian Dubie and Democratic challengers Cheryl Rivers and Jan Backus have all said they won’t participate in public financing this year.
Dubie says he doesn’t believe in using taxpayer money for elections. The Democrats argue that the law can’t effectively hold down the cost of campaigns because a judge threw out a key provision of the bill that established overall spending limits. They say they might be at a competitive disadvantage if one of their opponents raised a lot of money.
Hingtgen thinks this issue clearly separates his campaign from the other major party candidates:
(Hingtgen) “This is what campaigns are supposed to be – this is the best of politics, really. I mean here we have hundreds of people from all over the state giving $5, $10, $20. There’s no special interest money, there’s no out of state contributors, there’s no big donors bankrolling my campaign. So this is grassroots Vermont politics the way we all wish it could be. So I think that’s why public financing matters so much.”
(Kinzel) Hingtgen strongly believes that money is a corrupting influence on the state’s political system:
(Hingtgen) “We have many instances where we know that money influences elections in Vermont, money influences people’s votes. Public financing levels that playing field. It also really means that I don’t have to worry about making donors happy. That’s not my job. My job is to make Vermonters happy.”
(Kinzel) Hingtgen will receive $100,000 in public funds for his campaign. He says this money will allow him to run a highly competitive race against his Republican and Democratic opponents.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.