Tolman’s 2002 primary spending figures are skewed because he fought for Clean Elections money and won it — Tolman certainly ran a grassroots campaign too. Here’s what he said about this year’s spending, and what another former candidate said about “mobilizing millionaires” versus “mobilizing members”:
“We have a situation where the Democratic Party is mobilizing its millionaires instead of mobilizing its members,” said Scott Harshbarger, the 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee and a former national president of Common Cause who has fought hard for federal campaign finance reform. “It is a sad commentary if you need to be independently wealthy to break into the system.”
“What I learned in ’02 is that while people recognize the need to get money out of politics, it is no one’s number one issue.” said Warren Tolman, who ran a Clean Elections campaign for governor in 2002, hobbled by delays in providing him funds. “Over and over, I heard, ‘I know that after the primary he’ll have enough money to take on Healey dollar for dollar,’ ” Tolman said. “Chris is a good guy, but that’s a shame if that’s what this campaign comes down to.”
Until last year, I’d have argued for limiting campaign spending. Then last year I ran for office — and now I’d argue for public campaign financing. I spent way too much time during my campaign on fundraising — time that SHOULD have been spent talking to voters and talking about issues. Public campaign financing means grassroots campaigns can focus on issues and voters, instead of focusing on fundraising. I’ve come to agree with one of the grassroots candidates:
“This is not the kind of politics that is consistent with the core values of the Democratic Party,” Bonifaz said. “This is why so many people do not participate in the political process. This level of money in politics drowns out the voices of people at the most grassroots levelâ¦. This is further proof that we need to have a fully-funded public finance system with spending limits. “
This year’s grassroots candidates will now have to focus heavily on fundraising, to keep up with the candidates who opted out of the public limits. That hurts the grassroots candidates. The system in general helps incumbents and helps candidates with large personal fortunes. I think helping grassroots candidates is better for democracy than helping incumbents and wealthy candidates.
— Jesse Gordon, convention delegate supporting Deval Patrick, Andrea Silbert, and John Bonifaz; former technology Director for Robert Reich for Governor; and former candidate for Cambridge City Council