A bill to establish partial federal funding of Senate primary and general elections was introduced yesterday by five senators with a prediction the measure has a good chance of passing.
In 1974, a more comprehensive proposal, which provided full financing for campaigns of Senate and House candidates, passed the Senate but failed to become law primarily because of opposition in the House.
Under the proposed measure, Senate candidates would be limited in their general-election spending to $300,000 or 20 cents for each voter in the state, whichever is greater. This would mean a limit of $300,000 in the 19 smallest states up to a maximum of almost $2.9 million in California.
Candidates nominated by major parties would receive 25 per cent of their limit in federal funds; 75 per cent would come from private contributions and federal matching funds for contributions of $100 or less.
The 20-cents-a-voter figure is almost double the federal money allocated in presidential elections and would provide a ceiling in what is currently spent in an average Senate race.
Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) said yesterday that total funding had been dropped "because that would make candidates and campaigns totally dependent on the government."
A companion piece of legislation, to provide partial funding for House races, is expected to be introduced in that body shortly.
Sen. Dick Clark (Iowa), another sponsor of the biil, said the measure deserves a "high priority" so that it could take effect for the 1978 congressional elections, Clark is up for reelection next year.
Other prime sponsors of the measure are Sens. Charles C. McMathias Jr. (R-Md.), Richard S. Schweiker (R-Pa.), and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass).