Primary Season Funds Probably Won’t be Paid Until March 2008

The Federal Election Commission estimates no primary season matching funds will be paid until March 2008. Normally they would be paid on January 1, 2008. However, there isn’t enough money in the Presidential Campaign Federal Fund to pay for primary season matching funds, because not enough taxpayers have been checking the “yes” box on their 1040 forms.

The fund gives highest priority to funding the general election campaigns of the parties that polled at least 5% of the vote in the last presidential election. The fund gives the second highest priority to funding the national conventions of those parties. Primary season matching funds, the only type of federal campaign funds that minor party presidential candidates may routinely receive, have the lowest priority.

Of course, if a candidate is certified for primary season matching funds and knows that he or she will receive them in March or April 2008, that candidate may borrow money, with the expectation of repaying the loan from the proceeds.

The only minor party presidential candidate who is trying to qualify for primary season matching funds is Cynthia McKinney. If Ralph Nader declares later this month, he would also likely attempt to qualify for primary season matching funds. The only major party candidates who have already qualified for primary season matching funds are Republicans John McCain and Tom Tancredo, and Democrats John Edwards, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden. Although McCain has qualified, he hasn’t said yet whether he would accept them. Most prominent major party candidates are not seeking primary season matching funds because they don’t like the spending restrictions that come with them.

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