Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Pete Ashdown made five campaign promises to Utahns Thursday, a few of which would be major changes in how national elections and Congress are run.
Ashdown, who seeks to replace 30-year Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, wants shared or public funding of campaigns, seeks to dump the seniority system in Congress and wants no pay raises for congressmen until the nation's huge budget deficit is paid off.
Speaking to the media at his South Temple campaign headquarters, Ashdown said while he personally doesn't believe in limiting congressional terms by law, he himself would leave the Senate after 18 years (three terms) if he had not succeeded in "breaking the incumbent advantage" in elections.
To get over an incumbent's fund-raising advantages, Ashdown would either require all candidates for an office to pool their election donations or, better yet, have public financing of such campaigns. Hatch has $2 million sitting in his campaign war chest, Ashdown a small fraction of that.
"I would really like to help third-party candidates who need to get enough money to get their messages out," Ashdown said. Admitting that he hasn't raised funds via the Internet as he had hoped, Ashdown said he may not have enough money to run the TV advertising campaign he had planned.
Ashdown sent notarized copies of his campaign promises to leading Utah Republicans, saying the best way to keep him or any other politician on record with campaign promises is to make them publicly to your opponents.
Ashdown's five promises:
Strive for broad public collaboration on issues.
Run an open and honest Senate office, in part by publicly posting all of his meetings.
Promote "fair elections" by serving only three terms and push for public financing of races; eliminate Congress' seniority system by, in part, giving committee assignments and chairmanships by lottery.
Refuse any pay raise until the federal deficit is eliminated.
Fight against any and all kinds of Nevada nuclear testing.
He said over the past 30 years Hatch has broken all kinds of promises he's made, just one being to fight against long-serving congressmen. "He has not acted with the public's interest in mind," Ashdown said.