This just in: The Federal Election Commission has certified the first presidential candidate eligible to receive federal matching funds for the primary elections.
So which candidate in this hotly contested GOP slugfest will get that first infusion of federal cash? Is it Romney, the candidate with the most delegates so far, but who is now struggling in the press after a series of public missteps? Is it Newt Gingrich, who surprised Romney in South Carolina but flagged in Florida? Is it Santorum, the late-declared winner of Iowa who still doggedly pursues the nomination?
How about “D,” none of the above. The first candidate to receive taxpayer money in the 2012 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination is former Louisiana governor and congressman Charles E. “Buddy” Roemer III. If you didn’t know he was even running, you are not alone. He barely registers in the polls. But he will be getting federal funds. Indeed, primary candidates can receive up to a maximum of $22.8 million for this election.
What a waste of taxpayer dollars. In a free market of ideas, citizens who like the principles and views a candidate represents will contribute money to that candidate’s campaign. Citizens who don’t like a candidate’s agenda won’t support it financially.
But public funding of campaigns tends to bankroll candidates that voters don’t care about or don’t much like. Some days, it’s great to be a candidate — even an unpopular one.