Quick up-to-speed: a People’s Pledge is a way to workaround the results of the Citizens United ruling. Candidates agree that if outside interests spend money during the campaign, whoever is the beneficiary of the outside spending will donate half of the cost of the ad to the aggrieved candidate’s choice of charity. This does two things: one, it tells outside groups to back off, because their help will do more harm than good. Two, it makes a candidate donate to charity, which always looks good.
So, long story short, on the 4-year anniversary of Citizens’ United Raimondo backtracked from her campaign’s initially tepid reception of the idea to make a pretty unequivocal statement that a People’s Pledge was needed for the gubernatorial primary. Common Cause RI Executive Director John Marion threw this post up here on RI Future.
Now we could (and will) wildly speculate as to why Raimondo decided to back the Pledge. Maybe the polling for it is good. Maybe it’s an attempt to cloak herself in the Elizabeth Warren mantle. Maybe it’s her significant fundraising lead. Maybe it’s a little of column A, a little of column B, and a little of column C. Whatever. It’s a good thing.
As Common Cause MA points out, the Pledge reduces dark money spending, increases the influence of small donors, and decreases the amount of negative advertising. I wrote a post about a month before the Taveras campaign announced its call for a People’s Pledge, and one of my main points was that we need to avoid bloody primaries. Now, that’s just my partisan progressive Democrat stance, a harsh primary depresses Democratic turnout, and when Dems don’t vote, Republicans win.
Common Cause RI understandably isn’t concerned at all with that, they’re more about the disclosure issues, right of the public to know, that sort of good government thing. They’re hopeful soon-to-announce Clay Pell will also endorse the Pledge, and then the campaigns can get down to brass tacks and sort this out.
I’m hopeful (again). That Pell might refuse seems a bit weird, and would raise more questions than would be good for his fledgling campaign.
So that’s where the Democratic primary stands.
How about the Republicans? Oh dear.