Nine Republicans are running for governor. Why not, since campaigns can get tax money?
The debate stage Wednesday night was packed with no fewer than nine Republicans vying for the party’s gubernatorial nomination. With the Aug. 14 primary approaching, anxiety is growing over the Connecticut GOP’s failure to unite behind a candidate.
One reason the campaign trail has enticed so many pols is that Republicans’ chances seem strong. The incumbent, Dannel Malloy, isn’t running for re-election, perhaps because he is the most unpopular Democratic governor in America. Connecticut is a deep-blue state, but a union-commissioned poll late last year put Mr. Malloy’s approval even lower than President Trump’s. GOP representation in the state Legislature has surged since Mr. Malloy took office seven years ago.
But there may be another reason the campaign is so crowded: Connecticut’s “Citizens’ Election Program,” which provides public funds to candidates for state office. The money won’t be disbursed until after the parties’ conventions next month, but a promise of public cash lowers the fundraising bar for potential candidates.
The program was instituted in the wake of Gov. John Rowland’s 2004 resignation for public corruption. Though the misdeeds that forced Mr. Rowland out of office had little to do with campaign contributions, state officials wanted to demonstrate that they cared about clean government. So they gave Connecticut publicly financed elections.
Stephen Eide is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.