Sunday, December 03, 2006

Second Tier Candidates Need Not Apply

The chairman of the Federal Election Commission predicts that the cost of the White House contest in 2008 will far outpace the cost of the 2004 election, and that a tough time ahead awaits one of the major programs overseen by his agency: the public financing of presidential campaigns.

"The nominees of both major parties will probably turn down public funds for the general election, as well as for the primaries" in 2008, said Michael E. Toner, who is scheduled to step down as FEC chairman on Jan. 1. Candidates have rejected public funds for the primaries before, but never for the general election.

As a result, Toner said, the 2008 race "will be the longest and most expensive in American history." By rejecting public funding, the top-tier candidates "will be free to raise as much money as they can for both the primaries and the general election and the nominees of each party likely will seek to raise $500 million or more for their campaigns."

That would be a lot more than in 2004. Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the Democratic nominee, raised about $235 million, and President Bush collected approximately $270 million for their primary races. Both used public funds for the general election.

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