|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Sunday, 25 September 2011 23:00|
Texas Gov. Rick Perry was the top vote-getter during a straw poll conducted by the Goldwater Institute at a meeting of the Mingus Mountain Republican Club on Sept. 13.
“Who needs the Ames Straw Poll when we have the Mingus Mountain Republican Club Straw Poll?” asked Goldwater Institute Vice President of External Affairs Starlee Rhoades, the featured speaker.
Rhoades, a spokeswoman for the conservative think tank headquartered in Phoenix, took the poll to gauge local support for candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the 2012 presidential election.
Club members handed Perry a landlside victory, casting 22 of the possible 35 votes in his favor. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney finished second with eight votes, followed by U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachman [R-Minn.], who won three votes.
Pizza restaurant owner Herman Cain and former U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich [R-Ga.] each won a single vote. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul [R-Texas] and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum [R-Pa.] received no votes.
The poll came just before Rhoades spoke about a variety of institute initiatives, including its first U.S. Supreme Court victory in June.
On a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court on June 27 struck down sections of the Citizens Clean Election Act, a ballot initiative approved by Arizona voters in 1998. The decision invalidated similar provisions in clean election laws in six other states, Rhoades said.
The Goldwater Institute challenged the law on First Amendment grounds, claiming its matching funds provision discouraged political speech.
According to the Supreme Court, candidates who did not elect to receive public funds to finance their campaigns under the Arizona law were penalized every time they spent money on their own campaign.
This is because the Arizona law awarded candidates running a publicly-financed campaign a dollar-for-dollar match every time an opponent not receiving taxpayer funds spent money on their campaign, Rhoades said.
In other words, a candidate who did not take taxpayer money under the Clean Elections Act would be discouraged from spending more money on their own campaign because it caused their publicly-financed opponent to receive additional financing from the state.
By discouraging candidates from spending on their own campaigns, the law unlawfully restrained political speech, expression accorded the highest protection under the First Amendment.
“The purposes of the Clean Elections law are noble, but this is not the right way to go about it,” Rhoades said. “It’s not fair.”
The purpose of the act is to improve the integrity of state government and promote public confidence in the state political process by giving more people access to the process through publicly-financed campaigns, according to the Citizens Clean Election Commission.
The Goldwater Institute is involved in a variety of other projects, including a push to call a convention of the states to amend the Constitution as provided under Article V. The National Debt Relief Amendment would prohibit Congress from raising the debt ceiling without approval from a majority of the states.
The NDRA states, “An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the separate states.”
In order to change the Constitution through an amendments convention, something which has never been done before, 75 percent of the states, or 38 of them, would have to vote to approve the NDRA, Rhoades said. In the past, the Constitution has been amended using another process initiated by Congress.
“We think we can get this done in two to three years,” she said.
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