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Campaign: Impossible?

May 19, 1996

Times Staff Writer Janet Hook takes a serious look at the problems of a political candidate with a wealthy spouse ("When a Candidate Is Married to a Deep Pocket," April 26). I'd like to take this opportunity to point out an aspect Hook didn't mention. Under today's campaign finance rules, it is almost impossible for a challenger, any challenger, to mount a successful campaign against an incumbent.

The campaign finance rules were established with the intent of preventing someone from being bought by wealthy contributors. Its real effect has been to decrease the chances of usurping an incumbent. It is easier to get one person to contribute $100,000 than it is to get 100 people to contribute $1,000. This is true regardless of the candidate's popularity, electability, or stance on the issues. This creates a political climate in which only a Steve Forbes or a Michael Huffington has even so much as a slim chance.

I have two solutions to this problem. The obvious one is to repeal or raise the campaign finance limits. This would eliminate or lessen the need to pry small amounts of money from thousands of people who really can't afford it.

The other solution is to prohibit political electioneering on TV. This is probably by far the greatest single cost factor in running a campaign today. The First Amendment presents a serious objection to this idea. But, due to the inherently hazardous nature of smoking, the law prohibits cigarette advertising on television. I submit that politicians pose a much greater hazard to our health.

ALVIN E. SYLVAIN

Walnut

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