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Court Says Public Financing Not An Option For Zuckerman Campaign

A federal judge has upheld the constitutionality of the Vermont law that governs publicly financed political campaigns. But the candidate who challenged the statute says the ruling is bad news for people who care about public financing.

The law says that candidates who want to be eligible for public financing can’t announce their candidacies office until February 15 of the election year. Chittenden County Sen. David Zuckerman announced his intention to run for lieutenant governor back in November. And he asked a federal court judge to overturn the law that would otherwise prevent him from being eligible for public financing.

As Seven Days' Terri Hallenbeck  reported first on Wednesday, Zuckerman got an unfavorable ruling this week.

“I knew that the judge would either say yes and I could move forward with a publicly financed campaign even though I had pushed the dates. Or he was going to say no and I would do traditional funding and now I’ll do that,” he said.

Zuckerman said statewide campaigns now generally start at least a year before the election. He said Vermonters might not like the long campaign season.

“But with that being the case, this ruling makes it so that no one will run with public financing, because you can’t wait until six months or four months after people announce,” he said.

Zuckerman is running for lieutenant governor as a Democrat and a Progressive. He faces Burlington Rep. Kesha Ram and Marlboro businessman Brandon Riker in the Democratic primary.

Candidates for lieutenant governor have to raise at least $17,500 from 750 individuals in order to be eligible for $200,000 in public financing. Zuckerman has already hit those milestones. He said he’s confident he’ll be able to raise more than $200,000 privately.

This post was edited at 9:30 a.m. on 3/11/16 to indicate that Terri Hallenbeck of Seven Days reported the news first