Lynch and Markey sign “People’s Pledge”

Hearty congratulations to the two Democrats running for Senate: Ed Markey and Steve Lynch have agreed to a “People’s Pledge” that is modeled on the one to which Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown agreed last year.  You recall the basic idea: if any outside group (including PACs, national and state party committees, 501(c)(4)’s, 527′s, etc.) spends money to support a candidate or attack the other guy, the beneficiary must donate 50% of the cost of the ad buy to a charity of the other candidate’s choice.

The Lynch/Markey document is very similar to the Brown/Warren one, with one vast improvement: it includes direct mail (apparently robocalls are still not within the agreement’s scope).  Also, there is a provision whereby if a candidate who is required to make a donation fails to do so within three days, the amount doubles to 100% of the ad buy.  Five days later, the amount increases again.

Very well done of both candidates.  I trust we can expect Dan Winslow and Gabriel Gomez to sign on shortly – right Dan?

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14 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I guess it's a good thing...

    …though last fall when I was canvassing for Elizabeth Warren I very often spotted good mailings from the League of Conservation Voters about Scott Brown’s dismal environmental record. I don’t have hard evidence, but my sense is that it did some good. In general, it does feel like there’s a place in politics for a mailing from a known, reputable group–it keeps a campaign from degenerating into he said/she said.

    (On a side note, LCV endorsed Rep Markey, but Stephen Lynch’s record is worlds better than Scott Brown’s. So I have no idea if they’d have been heavily involved in the primary regardless.)

  2. Warning! Gomez and People's Pledge

    There is a huge loophole in the People’s Pledge. It does not contemplate the situation where a candidate is super-rich and can use mega-millions of personal money.

    Gabriel Gomez is a private equity kingpin, much like Mitt Romney. As a result, Gomez does not need outside funds, and he does need to do any fundraising for himself. He can spend a huge amount of his own money. If he wants, he can put $20 million of his own money into this campaign, and he can, effectively, buy the election. The people’s pledge does not cover this situation.

    As currently written, it will be a massive mistake to allow Gabriel Gomez to sign this agreement.

    • Good catch!

      They need to update it right away to include personal money beyond the standard maximum (2600 * 2).

      • Actually, I disagree.

        The point of the People’s Pledge is not to equalize the parties’ resources – after all, there’s nothing in it about the parties agreeing not to raise more than the other guy. The point, rather, is to ensure that we are hearing from the candidates themselves, not from shadowy surrogates. If a candidate wants to self-fund, well, we know where that money is coming from, and it’s being put to use by the candidate’s campaign, not by an outside group. So it seems to me that self-funding is quite a different issue and need not (and maybe should not) be included in a People’s Pledge sort of agreement.

        • Agreed

          The point, rather, is to ensure that we are hearing from the candidates themselves, not from shadowy surrogates.

          That point is right on. I argued a similar point in a recent blog here.

        • We see it differently

          The people’s pledge makes sense when there is a level playing field. Basically, both sides agree to a process where “outside muscle” is encouraged to stay away.

          If the republican candidate is Gabriel Gomez, however, there isn’t a level playing field. Simply by signing his name on a check, he can spend double what ever amount that Markey or Lynch have raised. In that situation, we don’t have a level playing field. If that occurs, we will lose unless we bring in union money from the DSCC, the MDP, and the LCV to help equalize the spending.

          • not necessarily

            Simply by signing his name on a check, he can spend double what ever amount that Markey or Lynch have raised. In that situation, we don’t have a level playing field. If that occurs, we will lose unless we bring in union money from the DSCC, the MDP, and the LCV to help equalize the spending.

            You might want to check in with Nate Silver about the recent track records of money vs. success in campaigns.

            Better fund-raising totals can serve as evidence that a campaign is well-organized, or has more grass roots support, which are indicators of candidate strength regardless of how the candidate actually deploys her financial resources. But if a superPAC spends a large sum in support of a candidate — or a candidate makes a large contribution to her own campaign — that money may not go far if the candidate is otherwise having a difficult time persuading voters of her merits. (Largely self-funded candidates, such as Linda McMahon of Connecticut and Carly Fiorina of California, have poor track records in recent years despite having gargantuan budgets.)

            • Good Point, But

              If money doesn’t matter in a campaign, then the People’s Pledge isn’t very important.

              I think that money does matter, and it can make the difference in a special election, especially when none of the candidates are well-known throughout the state. Gomez can use his money to define himself, and he can also define his opponent. With such a short election cycle, there might not be time or resources to effectively respond.

              • But it's about accountability

                If a piece is going to come out calling our nominee the Son of Satan I’d rather know it is Gomez doing it so we can call him on it. The flip side is that Gomez is less likely to use that message because that reflects badly on him. There are bragging rights to running a positive campaign and the People’s Pledge excludes the possibility of saying, “Don’t look at me.” regardless of the amount of money involved.

  3. so what happens...

    – If the RNC starts putting out negative ads about both campaigns? Tear them both down before the general.

  4. Maybe Gomez's bucks are the

    reason Winslow has expressly rejected the People’s Pledge in the primary. The Springfield Republican reports:

    Winslow said in his statement, released Thursday, that he would welcome outside advertising. “I welcome any outside group to contribute positive bio or issue ads, mailings, social media and the like,” Winslow said. “I am running a different kind of campaign. I am not an entrenched Washington insider who has to sign a pledge in order to run a fair, clean, positive campaign.”

    Winslow added, “For congressmen Markey and Lynch to posture about outside money in politics when their coffers are already filled with money from outside Massachusetts just shows you how inauthentic this pledge really is.”

    • In other words ...

      “They have money and I don’t”

      He joins the large group of politicians (sadly, of both parties) who oppose limitations on campaign financing while they have less money than their opponents and strongly support it while they have more.

      • Of Course

        The People’s Pledge only makes sense when there already exists a level playing field in which both candidates feel that they are roughly equal in their ability to raise money without help from other organizations.

        As a result, it will probably be pretty rare when a document like the People’s Pledge is signed.

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