Report:

The Cost of Running for US Senate in CA

HOW FUNDRAISING COULD CHANGE UNDER THE FAIR ELECTIONS NOW ACT
Released by: CALPIRG

CALPIRG supports two similar pieces of legislation in Congress—the Government by the People Act and the Fair Elections Now Act—to create incentives for candidates for U.S. Congress to develop a large base of small donors to finance their campaigns instead of courting only extremely wealthy donors and PACs.

What follows is a comparison of fundraising practices for a U.S. Senate seat in California under current law, and how fundraising could change if the Fair Elections Now Act became law.

FUNDRAISING FROM INDIVIDUALS UNDER CURRENT LAW:
Under current rules individual donors can give up to $2,600 to a candidate for a primary election and another $2,600 for the general election for a total of $5,200 per campaign cycle.

To raise at least $8,761,000 from individuals, a viable candidate would have to raise more than $13,000 from individuals every single day between today and Election Day. Under current law, a candidate focused on big donors would work to secure five donors giving the maximum of $2,600 each day. A grassroots candidate relying on small donors giving an average of $150, however, would need to get 88 contributions each day to hit the $13,000 pace.

IF THE FAIR ELECTIONS NOW ACT WERE LAW:
The Fair Elections Now Act allows grassroots candidates to be more competitive by amplifying the impact of small donations. For candidates who qualify by demonstrating a critical mass of small-donor support and who promise to forego large contributions and PAC funds, the Act would set up a public matching fund that would increase the impact of small contributions. Contributions of $150 or less would be matched with public funds at a six to one rate, meaning that a $150 contribution would be worth $1,050 to participating candidates. Where before, a Senate candidate in California would need to raise $13,000 each day from either 5 large donors, or 88 small donors, to stay on pace, under the Fair Elections Now Act, the grassroots candidate would need to find only 13 small donors per day giving $150 to stay competitive.