In 2012, Arizona voters will decide at the ballot box whether to keep the state's public financing apparatus in place for elections, or whether to get rid of it.
On Monday, the state Senate approved a measure to let voters decide whether the state constitution should be amended to prevent the use of public funds for candidates, and the wording of the measure could be key to its prospects of passage or failure. Arizona's Capitol Media Services notes:
Voters won't see the words "Clean Elections" when they go to the polls next year. Instead they will be asked to approve a measure that lawmakers, all foes of the current system, have dubbed the "Stop Public Money for Political Candidates' Campaign Act."
In 1998, the "Citizens Clean Elections Act" was approved in the state, clearing the way for candidates who forgo private money to pursue public funding. Some Democratic lawmakers in the state oppose the wording of the current measure, according to the Capitol Media Services report, because they believe voters will oppose attempts to repeal "Clean Elections." Republicans, meanwhile, say that the term "Clean Elections" for the public financing system is misleading.
Monday's development is only the latest for a state whose campaign finance system has been in the news lately. The Supreme Court is expected to rule by June on the constitutionality of Arizona's matching funds provision, which helps publicly financed candidates maintain parity with opponents who use private funding. The high court last heard arguments last month, and appeared ready to reject the Arizona law. The ruling could have a far-reaching impact beyond the state.