Reinvent Albany joins statement celebrating 100 candidates in NYS public campaign finance program


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 27, 2023


Fair Elections for New York Coalition Celebrates Growing Momentum for New York’s Groundbreaking Small Donor Matching Program

NEW YORK— More than 100 candidates from across the state and political spectrum have now opted into the state’s Public Campaign Finance Program ahead of the 2024 election cycle, marking a major milestone for the program’s inaugural cycle.

Fair Elections for New York, a coalition of more than 200 organizations that fought for public financing to be passed into law in 2020, celebrated the growing success of the voluntary program. By providing a viable alternative to big money in politics, public campaign financing empowers everyday citizens to have a greater voice in campaigns even if they are not wealthy. 

This historic moment aligns with what New York voters want. A February 2023 poll shows that a strong majority of New Yorkers support public financing and want their elected representatives to enroll in the program.

The one hundred participating candidates come from across the political spectrum and include both incumbents and newcomers: sixty-four of the candidates are current lawmakers seeking re-election. Candidates from across the state are participating, including in Nassau County, Rochester, the Hudson Valley and New York City. The full list of candidates is publicly listed on the New York State Board of Elections website HERE. Coalition members had the following reactions:

“This milestone ushers in a new era in our elections where everyday New Yorkers have a fighting chance to support candidates that reflect their values instead of having their voices drowned out by big-monied donors,” said Karen Wharton, Democracy Coalition Coordinator at Citizen Action of New York.  “The more than 100 candidates who have opted into the Public Campaign Finance Program in such a short time demonstrate the growing momentum for this program. It also shows that we are moving towards a New York state government that is a more inclusive and representative democracy, not one where only the wealthy can serve.”

“This milestone is a testament to the program’s strength and the determination of New Yorkers to have a government that truly represents their interests. The Public Campaign Finance Program enables participating candidates to spend more time connecting with constituents who give modest amounts while still raising competitive sums. It’s the most significant reform we’ve seen enacted anywhere to respond to the overwhelming influence of wealth in campaigns and promises to bring more voices into the political conversation,” said Joanna Zdanys, Senior Counsel in the Elections & Government Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “New York’s legislature and executive have shown national leadership by enacting and funding this vital program, at a time when so many hard-working Americans are struggling to be heard over billionaires and big business.”

“This important milestone affirms what campaigns and voters already know: that public financing of campaigns is the best way to connect candidates with their constituencies and amplify the voices of everyday New Yorkers in our politics,” said Betsy Gotbaum, Executive Director of Citizens Union. “As we celebrate the first 100 campaigns to join the New York Public Campaign Finance Program, we encourage all candidates to participate.”

“It’s no surprise over 100 candidates from across the state have opted into the new public financing program: they are eager to participate a democratic system that puts the interests of the people over big, wealthy donors. We trust many more will join in coming months,” said Sarah Goff,  Deputy Director of Common Cause New York.

“With 100 candidates for New York state office signed up for the public campaign financing system, the Fair Elections coalition’s campaign to give all voters – not just the wealthiest donors – a voice in the political process has more momentum than ever,” said Maria Quackenbush, Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance. “We are heartened that so many candidates have already enrolled and hope that still more will sign up and provide small donors in their districts with an opportunity to see their impact maximized.”

“The campaign to create a public campaign financing system for New York State has faced stiff resistance from the political status quo for decades — but today, 100 candidates for state office are now enrolled in a program that will amplify the voices of everyday New Yorkers in our political discourse while reducing the influence of deep-pocketed corporate donors in our elections,” said Rev. West McNeill, Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State. “We are proud to be part of the Fair Elections for New York coalition, and will keep fighting to ensure candidates use the public financing program to uplift the voices of small donors in the 2024 elections and beyond.”

“The League celebrates this milestone marking a step toward building a robust public campaign finance program in New York State. 100 participants demonstrates strength and confidence in the program and we look forward to watching the program continue to grow. Small donors in New York State deserve to have their voices amplified through the election process and we are glad to see that so many candidates feel similarly,” said Laura Ladd Bierman, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of New York.

“Powerful donors consistently overpower the interests of vulnerable communities in New York state and reinforce entrenched systems of oppression. Immigrant communities, in particular, are consistently overshadowed in the electoral system by wealthier, whiter campaign contributors. Public campaign financing is among the most promising reforms available to end that imbalance,” said Perla Silva of Make the Road New York. “As more and more candidates begin to participate in the program, we are optimistic that a new type of politics is evolving in our state — one that empowers the voices of low and middle-income communities in the campaign process.”

“As members of the Fair Elections for New York coalition, we are thrilled to see the state public campaign financing system continue to gain momentum. One hundred candidates for office in New York have committed to using their campaigns to bolster the political influence of working people through matchable, small-dollar contributions. This is a tremendous milestone that reinforces the urgency behind ensuring our state’s leaders fully fund this program and position it for success in the 2024 election cycle.” said Georgina DeJesus, Senior Director of Organizing of New York Communities for Change.

“Today we celebrate a milestone victory for our democracy! 100 state candidates have committed to say ‘NO’ to big donors and special interests by enrolling in the Public Campaign Finance Program” said Taina Wagnac, Senior Manager of State and Local Policy at New York Immigration Coalition. “This is a huge win for our low-income immigrant communities as public financing allows anyone from any walks of life to be able to run for office, and keep elected officials accountable to their constituents, not corporations.”

“With so many candidates taking advantage of this new public financing program, it’s more imperative than ever that our state’s leadership give the system the funding and support it needs to succeed. Candidates have clearly expressed enthusiasm for working within the program in 2024 and beyond; now, our policymakers must secure the future of this program for the long-term,” said Cori Marquis, New York Working Families Party.

“I’m a resident of Syracuse, the city with the highest child poverty rate in the nation and a region that does not abound in wealthy campaign contributors. New York’s small donor matching program will allow candidates to spend time talking to people in our district to learn about our challenges and our ideas to make things better, rather than being forced to spend their time talking to wealthy individuals outside of our district. It’s exciting to see so many candidates embracing the program,” said Jonah Minkoff-Zern, Campaign Co-Director, Public Citizen‘s Democracy Campaign.

“One hundred candidates for state office have made a deal with New York taxpayers according to the rules of state campaign finance law,” said John Kaehny, Executive Director of Reinvent Albany. “Candidates get public matching funds in return for lower contribution limits and no public money for big contributors. It’s a good deal for everyone.”

“This milestone marks a significant leap for our state’s democracy. The growing list of program participants demonstrates broad bipartisan support, propelling this reform forward just in time for the 2024 elections. Stand Up America members in New York have been strong advocates for the small-dollar matching program since its inception, and it is incredibly gratifying to witness this crucial win for New York voters,” said Brett Edkins, Managing Director of Policy and Political Affairs for Stand Up America.

New York’s small-donor matching program is administered by the Public Campaign Finance Board. It allows participating candidates to receive a multiple match of public funds on small donations from constituents. For statewide races, donations from New York residents of $250 or less are matched six to one. That means a $10 contribution is matched with $60, making it worth  $70 to the campaign. For legislative elections, donations from district residents are matched on a sliding scale that offers the greatest match on the smallest contributions: 12-to-1 for the first $50, 9-to-1 for the next $100, and 8-to-1 for the last $100. Candidates may continue opting into the program for the 2024 primary until late February.

“We are excited that New York’s new Public Campaign Finance System is gaining traction with candidates,” said Mark Hannay, Director of Metro New York Health Care for All.  “This advancement of grassroots democracy in our state will enable our lawmakers to stand up and address the health care needs of everyday New Yorkers, and not just continue to placate those industry forces that dangle large amounts of campaign cash.”


About Fair Elections for New York

Fair Elections for New York is a coalition of 200+ organizations that believe New Yorkers deserve a responsive, accountable government. To tackle the crises we face in housing, living wage jobs, criminal justice, affordable health care, transportation, climate, fair taxes, and more, we must protect and expand our democracy to ensure it is responsive to the majority of people, not just the wealthy and well-connected.