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WAMU: Candidates Taking On D.C. Incumbents Say New Public Financing Program Is A Game-Changer

“When Janeese Lewis George announced earlier this month that she would challenge D.C. Council member Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) in next June’s Democratic primary, she knew she would face an uphill battle. According to his first campaign finance filing, Todd, a prodigious fundraiser and two-time incumbent, took in $180,000 in two months.

But George, a former assistant D.C. attorney general, now has a way to catch up: public money. This is the first election cycle since the D.C. Council approved a new program that offers public funds to candidates for office who swear off big-dollar contributions. Once a candidate qualifies for the Fair Elections Program, every $50 contribution from a D.C. resident is matched with $250 in public funds.

For George, public financing could turn an initial haul of $5,000 from 150 D.C. residents into more than $65,000 in matching funds, plus a $20,000 base payment for qualifying for the program.

“Fair Elections is allowing for more candidates who are representative of the city and from all different backgrounds to have a fighting chance,” George says. “Shirley Chisholm said, ‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.’ And I think Fair Elections gives more people the opportunity to bring a folding chair to the table.”

“Fair Elections is allowing for more candidates who are representative of the city and from all different backgrounds to have a fighting chance,” George says. “Shirley Chisholm said, ‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.’ And I think Fair Elections gives more people the opportunity to bring a folding chair to the table.”

Read the full article in WAMU

Paid for by the Committee to Elect Janeese Lewis George, PO Box 56667, Washington, DC 20040, Latifa Lyles, Treasurer. A copy of our report is filed with the Director of Campaign Finance of the District of Columbia Board of Elections.