Landrigan: Rally for campaign reform, new report finds NH's system has flaws
CONCORD - "We want our democracy back. We’re tired of corporations and the billionaires buying our government.’’
That’s Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Co-Founder Ben Cohen celebrating a milestone in the Stamp Stampede campaign to get big money out of presidential politics.
Despite this triumph, the Coalition for an Open Democracy gives New Hampshire some failing grades on voting, campaign finance and lobbying.
"But in too many respects, we are falling far short of the ideal of a representative democracy,’’ said Dan Weeks, executive director of the Coalition for an Open Democracy.
New Hampshire gets an F on local turnout, less than 15 percent, nearly 60 percent of money given to 2014 campaigns came from shadowy Super PACs, that a few powerful groups dominate State House lobbying and only 1 percent of elected officials represent minorities."
There is no way to buy 424 people,’’ said Brad Cook, an experience lawyer and lobbyist who’s been an advocate for reform. ``There are certainly ways to influence them.’’
Thanks to plenty of campaign cash and incumbent-friendly districts, the State Senate has a 95 percent re-election rate, 83 percent for the 400-person House.
"We’ve got a system of insufficient competition for elections,’’ said Jim Rubens, a former, Republican state senator who ran for the US Senate in 2014.
What does New Hampshire do well? It’s easy to register to vote, there’s our legendary participation in the presidential primary and women hold office in greater numbers here than our neighbors and the national average.
"That is not to say that there isn’t a lot that is right about democracy in New Hampshire,’’ Weeks said.
But an advocate for public financing of elections says the powerful will not deliver change.
"Reform will happen when the public recognizes our future is at stake,’’ said John Rauh, a Democrat who twice ran for the US Senate.