The 2002 elections may be 500 days away, but some candidates are already in full campaign mode ? at least in terms of fundraising. Since January, First district congressional hopeful Martha Fuller Clark, has amassed more than $320,000. And as NHPR?s Josh Rogers reports, what it means depends a lot on whom you talk to.
What it means is the that a lot of people are really excited about Martha?s campaign, 81% of the more than 900 contributions are from right here in New Hampshire. And even that we?ve raised more than 70 percent of what we did doing the entire 2000 campaign.
That?s Clark for Congress spokesman Matt Burgess. He says the big money proves the grassroots appeal of Clark?s platform of improving education, rasing the minimum wage, protecting the environment, and defending reproductive rights. But for John Dowd, Chairman of the State republican party,the numbers tell a different story.
What is a little suprising is the size of the average contribution: $357. The average contribution to the republican national committee is $53. That?s seven times that. I mean it says Mrs. Clark has some very rich friends and they are supporting her.
Dowd also says he finds it strange that Clark is sending out press releases that emphasize her cash flow rather than her platform. Clark for Congress spokesman Matt Burgess promises that will change in due course. He says the Clark campaign won?t begin in earnest until after the new year. But in the meantime, he assures Clark?s campaign staff will be keeping busy.
We?re working harder than anyone else in the state right now, and probably anyone else in the country. We?re one of the leading fundraising operations in the country right now. We?re very proud.
Republican Party Chairman John Dowd says he?s not worried, by either Clark?s fundraising or by the mystery surrounding the political future of incumbent republican John E. Sununu, who beat back a stronger than expected challenge from Clark in 2000.
We hold the first district, John Sununu?s there. He?s looking at the Senate but he?s still our congressman, and says if he doesn?t run for the senate he? run again. We?d predict now with some degree of certainty that in a rematch of Martha Fuller Clark and John Sununu we?d have the same outcome.
Also convinced outcomes will remain the same is Peterborough campaign finance reform advocate Doris ?Granny D? Haddock, who confesses horror at a politics where elections are effectively sold to the highest bidder.
The system is very bad. And to be able to spend this crazy kind of money, to have to spend this kind of money. The band that gets elected is the one with the most money. But if we get public funding that will all be erased.
Haddock says she and other campaign finance reform advocates will be protesting on Friday at the Keene offices of Congressman Charlie Bass. Who touted election reform in his 2000 campaign, but has been unwilling to challenge his party leaders for keeping the Shays-Meehan reform bill off the house floor.