Wednesday, September 28, 2022 6:22 am

[COMMENTARY] Much-maligned Clean Elections helps women seek and win elected office, and we should support that

U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko. /Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
The 2018 midterms were another successful election for women in Arizona politics.

By Ian O’Grady | Arizona Mirror/
Ian O’Grady is a Marshall Scholar from Arizona studying Politics at the University of Oxford.

(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussions purposes only.)

Voters chose Kyrsten Sinema to be the first woman to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate. Debbie Lesko won two elections for the House: a special election in April and then again in November.

A Democrat and Republican, these two women have little in common politically – except they both started their political careers running for the legislature with Clean Elections funds.

Lesko and Sinema are part of a trend I observe in my dissertation: more women run for seats in the state legislature, a key entry point into politics, in states with Clean Elections programs.

Related:Republican women watch their numbers decline in state legislatures by Rose Law Group Reporter

Past research illustrates how the public campaign funding program present in Arizona, Connecticut, and Maine, democratizes who can run for and win elected office, reducing incumbency advantages and increasing competition and participation. Stanford’s Neil Malhotra concludes, “these programs do not simply fill the coffers of unserious and low-quality candidates, but rather they help serious contestants mount effective challenges.”


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