Marchand Rolls Out Plan To Diminish Role Of Big Donors In Race For N.H. Governor

May 8, 2018

Credit Peter Biello / NHPR

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Marchand rolled out a new plan designed to give New Hampshire politicians more incentive to raise campaign money from small-dollar, in-state campaign donations instead of wealthy donors, lobbyists and corporate PACs.

“If somebody’s unable to give at least $250 or more, generally you’re told by your campaign staff and advisers that they are not worth calling or spending time trying to get money from,” Marchand told reporters on a press call outlining his new plan.

In turn, he said, that leads many candidates to go after donations from special interest groups or donors who are willing to spend big to advance a particular agenda.

With that in mind, Marchand wants to set up a public campaign financing system for candidates running for governor, the state senate and the executive council — three races where, he says, the role of big money is especially prevalent.

Under his plan, if a candidate raises a certain amount of donations under $100 dollars, and most of those donations come from residents of their district, they would get a boost in campaign cash from the state. The specific amount would depend on what office a candidate is seeking:

State Senate and executive council candidates would need to raise at least $20,000 in small-dollar contributions, with at least $10,000 coming from inside their district

Gubernatorial candidates would need to raise at least $250,000 in small-dollar contributions, with at least $225,000 coming from New Hampshire donors

Marchand estimates the plan could cost the state anywhere from $4.2 million to $6.32 million a year and suggests that the general fund should pay for it. Spending state tax dollars would be worth it, he argued, to protect against outside influence on how those tax dollars are used.

“Most people agree that the way we raise money in our state and in our country plays an outsized role in how those billions of dollars end up getting spent,” he said.

According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, at least a dozen other states offer some kind of public financing for state-level campaigns.

Moving forward, Marchand says his own campaign will commit to getting donations of less than $100 from at least 2,250 New Hampshire residents — the minimum number of small-dollar, in-state contributors that a gubernatorial candidate would need under his new public financing plan.