Provision expected to boost Republican Senate race spending

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(Host) A little known provision in the federal election law is expected to significantly boost spending in this year’s Republican U.S. Senate primary.

The major beneficiary of this provision is Greg Parke, who’s running against former IDX founder Richard Tarrant for the GOP nomination.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel explains.

(Kinzel) Under federal law, a candidate cannot accept more than $2,100 from an individual contributor for any single campaign.

Except if the person is running against another candidate who is largely self-funding their own campaign. And that’s exactly the situation in the Vermont Republican U.S. Senate race.

Richard Tarrant has given his campaign almost 3.5 million dollars to date and Tarrant plans to spend millions more in his effort to win a general election race with Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders.

When an individual chooses to self fund their own campaign, the Federal Election Commission increases the contribution limits for the other candidates in the race. In the case of Greg Parke, the limit will be raised to just over $12,000 or roughly 6 times the previous limit.

Parke is hoping the change will bring several hundred thousand additional dollars into his campaign.

(Parke) “It will definitely help. I certainly don’t see it as a panacea for being able to write $450,000 dollar checks every week to my campaign. But it will certainly help a great deal. It’s difficult to compete against that kind of money, although money doesn’t always make the difference as Jack McMullen found out.”

(Kinzel) Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis says the larger contribution limits could help Parke because the candidate has been concentrating on raising money from out of state.

(Davis) “And he never mentions Rich Tarrant very much in his fundraising appeals. He’s running against Bernie Sanders and using the specter of senator Bernie Sanders to raise money from very conservative donors all around the country.”

(Kinzel) Davis says the time will soon come when Parke will need to focus on Richard Tarrant if he wants to win the GOP primary.

(Davis) “The people who will determine whether Greg Parke actually is on the November ballot are the people who vote in the Republican primary in Vermont. So he needs to start paying more attention to Vermont Republicans and perhaps a little bit less attention to raising money out of state.”

(Kinzel) According to recent FEC reports, Parke has raised just over $900,000 for his campaign and has approximately $70,000 in cash on hand.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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