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Campaign finance system in effect for primary elections

Mar 11, 2024 12:55 pm

Joshua Solomon reports in the Times Union that because of New York's new matching campaign contributions, there may be more viable primary election challenges this year. Claire Cousin, for instance, has mounted a primary challenge to Democrat Assemblyperson Didi Barrett in the 106th Districtr, the includes much of Columbia and Dutchess counties. Cousin, a Columbia County supervisor from Hudson, said, “It didn’t seem doable,” before the new campaign finance law. New York is now giving matching contributions for donations under $250 from donors who live in a candidate's district. Cousin, who also has the backing of the Working Families Party, said, “It’s sending a clear message that folks like myself have a more fair opportunity to run a competitive race." Barrett, though, is not participating in the public campaign finance program, which comes with a many potentially costly regulations. Working Families Party co-Director Jasmine Gripper said, “The public financing system really gives us a chance to neutralize the power of big money in our politics and outside influence that has had an oversized presence in our democracy.” Jay Jacobs, the state Democratic Party chair, said the program can “enhance the opportunity for challengers.... But the idea behind it was to make the system at least a little bit fairer.... And I think it’s going to do that.” In Ulster County, an insurgent is coming at an incumbent from the center. Gabi Madden, a former staffer for Assemblyperson Kevin Cahill and state Sen. James Skoufis, is trying to unseat the first-term Democratic Socialist Assemblywoman Sarahana Shrestha. Madden said, “I’m relying on the matching funds program.... That’s what is making me a competitive candidate in this race.” And Shrestha is also using the program, saying they have shifted to looking for small-dollar financial support from residents in their district. She said, “It does make them a little bit more invested in our race.... Because many people are not necessarily used to the idea of giving money unless they’re a political junkie. That’s been an interesting experience to see play out in real life.” Read more about this story in the Times Union.