One proposal, floated by Citizens Action Group, which supports public financing, is to offer candidates up to $825,000 a year.
Election officials think the public attention of the court case against the rescue fund helped raised Loughry's profile in ways that the relatively small amount of public money could not. The legal battle was fueled by two Democratic lawyers and targeted Republican Loughry's access to extra money - so arguably it backfired.
Tennant's attorney, Tim Leach, said Loughry got "a lot of press, which had the beneficial effect of name recognition for the candidate."
And campaigns continue to cost more and more.
"I know television stations. I'm sure their rate card won't be the same," Tennant, a former TV reporter, said. She was referring to the price stations charge for ads.
There is about $2.6 million left in the pilot program's account. If the Legislature does not extend the program, that money returns to the state general fund.
Collias worried the Legislature would balk at costs of making the public financing program permanent.
"I just wonder if the dollars are going to get big enough that the people in the Legislature are going to oppose it just because of the amount of money," he said.