Speaker Roberts: Clean Elections Program Clears First Key Hurdle

With 15 Candidates Already Qualified Under Public Financing Initiative, Stage Set for Inclusion of Primary Races in 2009

PoliticsNJ.com — Friday, August 17, 2007

By teel

TRENTON — With 75 percent of the candidates seeking public campaign financing through this year's revamped Clean Elections Pilot Program having qualified as "clean candidates" by today's key Noon deadline, Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr. said this year's clean-money initiative already has connected with voters.

Roberts, author of the clean election legislation, noted that by virtue of more than 50 percent of declared Clean Elections candidates having qualified, a provision in the law has been triggered that sets the stage for the program to include primary election candidates in 2009.

"This year's Clean Election program removed the bureaucratic red tape of the old law which has enabled more candidates than ever to qualify for Clean Elections funding," said Roberts (D-Camden). "The results so far are proof that bipartisan reforms instituted last year to enhance Clean Elections' chances of success are working."

As of noon today, 15 of the 20 candidates seeking to qualify under the Clean Elections program in the 14th, 24th, and 37th legislative districts had reached the goal of receiving $10 qualifying donations from at least 400 in-district registered voters. By meeting that deadline, each qualified candidate will be designated as a "Clean Elections Candidate" on the November ballot and can have a 250-word personal statement printed on the sample ballots mailed to registered voters prior to Election Day.

The five remaining candidates who have declared their intent to participate in the program still have until September 30 to qualify for Clean Elections financing.

Speaker Roberts said he was especially excited by the prospect of Clean Elections being extended to include the 2009 legislative primary elections.

"Before the case could be made to expand the Clean Elections concept to the primaries, we needed to prove that candidates and voters would embrace the concept of special-interest-free campaigns," said Roberts. "With the positive results already being achieved by this year's program, what once was thought of as a lofty goal is coming closer to becoming a historic reality."

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