Bill would give special election candidates a second shot at same donors

Candidates who ran in special elections at disadvantage in the fall, under current fundraising rules

Massachusetts State House Photo: Thinkstock

BOSTON (State House News Service) – Candidates in special legislative elections this year will be limited in their fundraising options should they then decide to run again in the fall unless the Legislature steps in and passes a new law.

State law limits individuals to a maximum donation of $1,000 per candidate per calendar year. So candidates who run in a special election and then again in a general election in the same year are held to that $1,000 maximum, a provision that would change under legislation filed by Rep. Garrett Bradley.

“I think it would encourage people to get involved in a special, and if they lose, and they want to run again in the fall elections, they’d be able to do that without being upside down or starting in a hole compared to some of the other people who’d run,” Bradley told the News Service.

The bill (H 542), part of a series of recommendations made by a bipartisan campaign finance task force in 2014, would re-set the limit for candidates running in a special election held the same calendar year as the general, so that they could receive up to $1,000 per donor in each election.

Three new House members — Reps. Stephan Hay of Fitchburg, Gerry Cassidy of Brockton and Thomas Walsh of Peabody – took their seats in March after winning special elections. Three more special elections, two in the House and one in the Senate, will be decided next Tuesday, May 10.

“My hope is we can get it passed this session,” Bradley said. “It seems like a fairness issue and really kind of something that’s really not going to affect too many people.”

After a hearing last November, the Election Laws Committee endorsed the bill and the full House gave it initial approval on March 24.

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