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Herseth is first successful campaign-paid candidate

Stephanie Herseth, the South Dakota Democrat who won a hard-fought House race this week, is the first successful candidate to pay herself a salary to run for Congress.

Ms. Herseth took advantage of changes to campaign finance rules two years ago that allowed federal candidates to pay themselves a wage from their campaign treasuries. By allowing candidates to maintain an income, the new rule was intended to encourage people who are not wealthy to run for office.

The rule is being tested this election season in Mississippi, Arkansas and other states, as candidates weigh the benefits of collecting a salary against the possible political attacks and image problems. ...

Ms. Herseth, a 33-year-old lawyer, is probably the most high-profile candidate to pay herself from campaign funds. Since February, she has collected about $2,500 a month, the equivalent of $30,000 a year, said PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks campaign finance. That is less than the roughly $84,400 that she made last year, and less than the $158,100 that members of Congress are paid. -- House Seat Winner Discovers That It Pays to Pay Yourself (New York Times)