After Larry Lessig's super PAC to end all super PACs narrowly beat its fundraising goal earlier this month, supporters have been waiting to hear just who Mayday PAC plans to back in its effort to elect campaign finance reformers to Congress.
Now, the organization has named two of the five candidates it's expected to promote. First up is Republican Jim Rubens, who's running for Senate in New Hampshire. The second is Democrat Staci Appel, who's seeking election in Iowa's third congressional district. Rubens is a two-term former state senator who's challenging Scott Brown for the Republican nomination; Appel is also a former state senator who served as the assistant majority leader from 2007 to 2011 before being defeated by a Tea Party-backed candidate.
Both candidates have passed Mayday PAC's two-pronged litmus test for support. The informal test requires candidates who might benefit from the super PAC to endorse what Mayday PAC has called "fundamental reform" to campaign finance — a move to small-dollar donations or other ideas. The candidate must also be running in a close race where a win would be clearly a result of Mayday PAC's involvement.
"If a candidate for Congress wants to be inoculated from being on our target list, there is an easy way to do so: get on the right side of reform," Lessig told supporters in an e-mail Tuesday.
Mayday PAC says that it's maximizing its chances of ensuring campaign finance reform by backing Rubens over Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, the incumbent Democrat in New Hampshire who is also in favor of getting money out of politics. By supporting Rubens in the primary fight against Scott Brown — whom the super PAC opposes — Mayday PAC makes it more likely that a reformer (whether Shaheen or Rubens) makes it to Washington, according to the group.
But Shaheen so far doesn't seem to be hurting, exactly; recent polls have her up on Brown by around 10 percentage points. That raises the question as to whether the money might be better spent on, say, supporting Sen. Mary Landrieu, the Louisiana Democrat who's been open to backing campaign finance reform in the past and whose race is much closer.
Mayday PAC anticipates announcing its support for three more candidates before the summer is out. Its fundraising campaign passed a $5 million goal on July 4 with a few hundred thousand dollars of breathing room. A pending match, combined with funds raised earlier on, is expected to bring Mayday PAC's war chest to $12 million.