Progressives are already preaching the wrong lessons learned when we blow $8 million in taxpayer dollars on candidate financing.

Pay attention class, as Axios Denver explains:

 Denver gave more than $1.7 million in taxpayer money to candidates who had no chance of winning their respective races in this month’s municipal election.

Those mayoral candidates proved themselves unelectable by garnering less than five percent of the vote. For council candidates, it was less than 10%.

The purpose of taxpayer-funded elections, which was agreed to by only 200,000 Denver voters, was to minimize the impact of big-dollar donors and level the playing fields, Axios explained.

And yet, the candidates who raised the most money from those big donors were the big winners, except for one case, in which the winner had the second-highest amount.

A major problem with the candidates’ fund is that it’s a free-for-all in terms of spending with very few limits. One mayoral candidate took in nearly $200,000 then dropped out of race a few weeks before the election.

Owen Perkins of CleanSlateNow Action that supports public financing, told Axios it was all still a success because there were so many “great choices” for mayor.

But if they were truly all so great, they wouldn’t have been so widely rejected.

Taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be blown on participation trophies to make people feel good. And certainly not in an election in which funding to deal with homelessness and crime were the top issues.

“It’s too bad that some of those races did go to the top money raisers,” said Owen Perkins at CleanSlateNow Action, an organization that supported the public financing program. “That is going to lead people and future candidates to think that money is the be-all and end-all, and that’s too bad.”

But shouldn’t the mayor and council be adept at raising and spending money wisely in their own elections?

Because that’s basically the key job description of the positions they are seeking, which is to raise and spend our taxpayer dollars, wisely.