The Mayday Super PAC, which is bankrolling pro-campaign finance reform candidates and targeting those it sees as barriers to change, recently gave politicians the chance to “inoculate” themselves from the PAC’s wrath by pledging to support reform. Not many took the medicine.
Just 35 of the roughly 2,500 candidates running for House and Senate seats in 2014 (many of the 2,500 are not serious contenders) made the Mayday PAC pledge to support at least one proposal to substantially change the way campaigns are financed in the United States. Mayday PAC provided the list exclusively to TIME.
After raising nearly $8 million in Kickstarter-style online contributions earlier this year, Mayday PAC announced late July the first two candidates which it’s supporting: Staci Appel, a Democrat running for Congress in Iowa, and Jim Rubens, who’s running against former Senator Scott Brown in New Hampshire’s GOP Senate primary.
Mayday PAC then fired what it called a “warning shot” to others.
“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,” said Lawrence Lessig, a key founder of the group. Politicians had until 5 p.m. Tuesday, August 5, to commit to reform.
The PAC hopes to raise an additional $5 million from heavyweight donors, giving it a war chest of $12 million for the 2014 midterm election cycle. Mayday PAC has said it will ultimately support five candidates, spending $2 million in each, give or take, depending on the circumstances. In some races, particularly in a congressional election, that sum of money could make to a sizeable impact.
Of the 35 candidates on the list, Mayday PAC has already announced it’s supporting two — one of whom, Jim Rubens, is also the list’s only Republican. One Libertarian and four independents took the vaccine. Many of those who signed are long-shot candidates, like Shenna Bellows, who is polling more than 30 points behind in her quest to unseat incumbent Maine Republican Susan Collins.
There is no indication the PAC would target any specific candidate who failed to make the pledge or that any candidate on the list was at risk of being targeted. Mayday PAC did not contact any campaigns to notify them they might be targeted if they didn’t make the list.
Here’s Mayday PAC’s list of those who did make the pledge:
Staci Appel (D—IA)
Jonathan Barfield, Jr. (D—NC)
Ann Callis (D—IL)
Roy Cho (D—NJ)
Forrest Dunbar (D—AK)
Michael Eggman (D—CA)
Christina Gagnier (D—CA)
Tom E. Guild (D—OK)
Alanna Kay Hartzok (D—PA)
Mary M. Headrick (D—TN)
Jeffrey Kurzon (D—NY)
Drew Eugene Leavens (D—CA)
Arthur Lieber (D—MO)
Seth Moulton (D—MA)
Jim Mowrer (D—IA)
Patrick J. Murphy (D—IA)
Gloria Negrete McLeod (D—CA)
Richard Nolan (D—MN)
Randall Olsen (D—IL)
Douglas Owens (D—UT)
Joseph Emil Perske (D—MN)
Kathleen Rice (D—NY)
Jason Ritchie (D—WA)
Martha Robertson (D—NY)
Carol Shea-Porter (D—NH)
Marc Veasey (D—TX)
Kelly Westland (D—WI)
James Isaac Woods (D—AZ)
Craig Richard Bowden (Libertarian—UT)
James Ross Hinton (I—CA)
Luther Lee (I—FL)
Paula Darlene Moser-Bartlett (I—FL)
Shenna Bellows (D—ME)
Jim Rubens (R—NH)
Larry Pressler (I—SD)
Becca Stanek contributed to this report.
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