The law is pretty straightforward: Donors can give up to $1,000 in a calendar year to candidates for state or local office.
But that simple law can lead to some complicated political calculations.
Take the case of Joseph Boncore et al.
Two weeks ago, Boncore, a member of the Winthrop Housing Authority, won the Democratic primary in a special election to fill a vacancy in the state Senate. With no Republican opposition, he is expected to cruise into office.
But Boncore will have to gear up, immediately, for re-election in the fall. And here’s where the contribution limit comes in: Friends and associates who gave Boncore $1,000 for the special election won’t be able to give any more this year. And those who gave $500 will only be able to give an additional $500.
Boncore, at least, will have the advantage of being an incumbent, however briefly. That should open some new fundraising avenues.
But Democrats who fell short in the special election and want to make another run at the seat in the fall will face the same fundraising limits — without the patina of incumbency.
At least one special election candidate, human rights attorney Lydia Edwards, says she is weighing a fall run.
Of course, hopefuls who skipped the special election altogether won’t have the same concern about tapped-out donors. They’ll be able to ask all of their contributors for the full $1,000. For a candidate with real fundraising chops, that could be an advantage.
State Representative Garrett Bradley, a Hingham Democrat, is sponsoring legislation that would allow candidates for state representative and state Senate to raise $1,000 from a donor twice in the same year if they face both a special election and a regular election.