There were high hopes that Harvard professor and tech-industry icon Lawrence Lessig could use his brainpower to end the influence of money in U.S. politics. His political startup, MayDay.us, crowdfunded $10 million to fund candidates who supported radical campaign finance reform.
But last night, MayDay’s hopes were dashed when it only won two of the eight races the fund helped.
Lessig told VentureBeat, “It was a tough night across the board for supporters of reform, but we’re glad we engaged in this fight. We feel confident that we made progress, and we’re collecting and examining data over the next couple of days that can illustrate the impact that Mayday achieved in our races. The fight to root out corruption in our politics is one of the most important in our time, and we will continue to pursue it with fierce urgency.”
In the end, only Walter Jones of North Carolina (Republican) and and Ruben Gallego of Arizona (Democrat) won their race. To be sure, when they get to Congress, the two junior members aren’t coming from states with large populations, so they will have less influence.
When he began, Lessig struggled to get support from existing members of Congress, so he started his own organization, MayDay, to fund members who would be favorable toward his vision to overhaul the U.S. campaign finance system: Give all citizens the same amount of money to spend on campaigns. This equals the playing field for both rich and poor citizens alike. (Read more about the plan here.)
It was an ambitious attempt and garnered lots of press. But in the end, MayDay either funded the wrong candidates or couldn’t find candidates who supported reform and could win.
It appears that Lessig will still continue his work. Like any good founder, he marches on through the failure.
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