Advocates of the Arizona Clean Elections Act promised a bountiful yield of political diversity by seeding the campaign trail with millions of taxpayer dollars. But a new report finds there has been no increase in non-traditional candidates.
A study by the Center for Competitive Politics shows the same mix of people are running for statewide office as always have. This study supports previous findings by the Goldwater Institute that taxpayer funded political campaigns have not resulted in any increase in minor or third-party participation. Moreover, incumbency reelection rates have remained near 100 percent.
The Clean Election Act has, however, succeeded in protecting the political status quo. This is not surprising. The acts complex regulatory mandates deter ordinary citizens from entering the political arena. For those who accept taxpayer funding, the act tilts the competition in favor of incumbents by holding all candidates to the same spending limits preventing new candidates from spending more to overcome the name recognition of incumbents.
The Clean Elections Act has had the opposite effect that its proponents promised. That's why its been appropriately dubbed the Incumbent Protection Act. If we want to encourage more diversity among political candidates, Clean Elections isn't the way to do it.
Nick Dranias is the Director of the Center for Constitutional Studies at the Goldwater Institute.
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