The People’s Pledge and the US Senate Race in MA

It’s a decision that might have cost Scott Brown re-election….and it’s one that Republican Senatorial candidate Gabriel Gomez has no plans to repeat. At issue: the People’s Pledge, where candidates discourage political ads from outside groups. In 2012, US Senator Scott Brown and challenger Elizabeth Warren signed a so-called people’s pledge.  Many were skeptical that this pact would hold up given the high national stakes. But it did, according to a new study by Common Cause Massachusetts. Pam Wilmot, the director of Common Cause says the study shows the people’s pledge was incredibly effective: 

“The people’s pledge significantly reduced outside money, it significantly reduced outside advertising, it limited dark or secret money in our elections and it boosted the role of small donors.”

The study compared the 2012 Senate race in Massachusetts , to three other competitive 2012 Senate races in Virginia, Ohio and Wisconsin. It found in the other races, upwards of 80% of all TV ads were negative, as opposed to Massachusetts, where 36% of the ads were negative. Tyler Creighton, the author of the study, says the people’s pledge also  reduced spending by outside groups. Just seconds after Ed Markey won the Democratic nomination, he hammered Gomez to sign the people’s pledge. But Gomez says he absolutely will not sign it. Tufts Political Science Professor Jeff Berry says it’s not to Gomez’s advantage to sign the pledge:

“He is quite a bit behind Markey in his capacity to raise money on his own, the race is very short, and he needs large amounts of money very quickly.  And outside groups can spend unlimited amounts whereas individual contributions that come to him are restricted in amount.”

Ed Markey has a lot more money than Gabriel Gomez Does at this point.  As of April 10, Markey had 4.6 million dollars of cash on hand, and Gomez had 500 thousand. But the question is, will the national Republican players decide to invest in Gomez’s candidacy? Pam Wilmot says if they do, and the candidates don’t sign the pledge, voters should be ware:

“Big donors are going to be putting a lot more money in our elections, and that means they’re going to have a lot more chits to call in once one of those candidates is elected.”

Wilmot says that’s the big problem.  It isn’t just the election, but what happens after the election.  And the people’s pledge she says is the best way right now to limit big money in politics.