Earlier today we received a breathless press release from Jon Zaglin, a local Green Party member, announcing that Fifth District Supervisor candidates Patrick Cleary and Ryan Sundberg have reached a "groundbreaking agreement" to cap their campaign spending. This revolutionary accord was reportedly reached at a recent Green Party meeting after both candidates voiced their support for publicly funded elections. When a Green Partier in attendance suggested that Cleary and Sundberg could simply make a "gentlemen's agreement" to cap their expenditures, the candidates agreed "without hesitation," according to the release.
"The decision to cap their own campaign spending at a mutually agreed-upon level has the potential to transform political campaigning in Humboldt," Zaglin opines.
Does it really? Reached by phone today, the candidates themselves were decidedly less starry-eyed on the subject. For one thing, they have yet to discuss, much less agree upon, any dollar figures. "A cap without a cap is not really a cap," Cleary said. Then there's the muscular sums already raised and spent in the race. (Sundberg hauled in and spent more than $95,000 and Cleary spent more than $71,000 through June.)
Here in the midst of the general election season, it's not as simple as pinching off the money hose. "We like the principle," Sundberg said, "but we both have obligations -- I know I do." Sundberg said he needs to go over it with his campaign committee, calculate his fixed costs and factor in promised expenditures on advertising and such.
At best, Cleary said, this was an agreement to agree.
"I don't know if it will work or not," Sundberg admitted. The two plan to meet sometime next week to discuss the details of their agreement agreement.