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Campaign finance reformers had a really bad night on Tuesday

Greg Orman, an independent candidate for US Senate from Kansas, received support form the Mayday PAC but did not win his election.
Greg Orman, an independent candidate for US Senate from Kansas, received support form the Mayday PAC but did not win his election.
Julie Denesha/Getty Images

Larry Lessig's Mayday PAC was supposed to build support for public financing of election campaigns by electing a new crop of public-financing supporters to Congress. Lessig hoped victories in 2014 would create momentum for an even bigger campaign in 2016 that would elect enough like-minded members to overhaul the way elections are financed in 2017.

But as Recode reports, Mayday's election scorecard doesn't look so great. Mayday spent millions of dollars to support Democrat Rick Weiland's campaign for Senate from South Dakota and Democrat Paul Clements's challenge to Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). In both cases, Mayday's candidate lost by wide margins. Several other Mayday picks also lost:

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire, who lost to Republican Frank Guinta, who has held the seat before. In Iowa, Staci Appel lost to Republican David Young 53 percent to 42 percent. And in Kansas, independent candidate Greg Orman wasn’t able to knock off incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts, who gained help from all corners of the Republican party who were terrified he was about to lose the seat (and their chance to retake the Senate).

Two Mayday candidates won: Democrat Ruben Gallego, who Mayday had supported in the primary, and who won easily in a race that had no Republican candidate. And Republican Walter Jones, who represents a safe Republican seat in North Carolina, won re-election easily.

Lessig hoped to challenge conventional wisdom that voters don't care about campaign finance issues, by helping candidates who run on the issue win. Yet Tuesday's results seemed to suggest the opposite: most of the candidates Mayday backed lost, and at least one of the two Mayday candidates who did win, Jones, almost certainly would have won anyway.