Will Whitman's spending backfire?


The political graveyards of California are littered with the bones of candidates who tried to get elected to statewide office on the basis of their own great wealth. Steve Westly, Al Checchi, Jane Harmon, Michael Huffington, Darrell Issa ... lots of people though they could buy the job of governor or senator. Most of them failed -- in part because they couldn't craft a message that appealed to the voters.

But I think they also failed because on some level, California voters don't like being bought. The idea that someone is so rich that he or she can spend around $50 million to get elected governor is kind of appaling, particularly in an era when people aren't so happy with the very rich.

Calbuzz had a little fun looking at all the things Meg Whitman could buy with the $40 million she's already spent (Madonna's apartment, Conan O'Brien's silence, a Cape Cod wastewater plant), but really: You have to wonder what she could have done for society if she'd used that cash for something other than her vanity campaign.

I have no polling data on why mega-millionaires don't win; the current polls show Meg's ahead of Jerry Brown . But I'm not sure her cash and her obscene spending won't become a negative at some point.


Bad for Families. Bad for California. Blinded By H8. http://www.blindedbyh8.com/

Posted by BlindedByH8 on Apr. 05, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

I think it is entirely possible that the voters, having seen all the people who got elected in place of those rich guys, and having seen them land California with the biggest and most unsustainable budget deficit in the Western world, might just possibly want a Governor who has an adroit, savvy business sense.

And there is an important plus point about having a rich leader, as anyone in NYC will tell you.

They can't be bought.

My other guess is simply that, given the CA Assembly will always be Democratic, it makes sense to have a GOP Governor, to ensure some checks and balances.

Posted by Tom Foolery on Apr. 05, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

Is a deal killer for me, I would prefer Tom Campbell who is socially liberal and unlike all the democrats in Sacramento knows the value of a dollar.

As the other poster said the government isn't a business, that is true in California for sure, Sacramento is a place where community activists graduate too after promising to give the government away.

Posted by laughing at the duck on Apr. 05, 2010 @ 9:26 pm

I see it the other way around. in order to get more done, we need a governor in which has experience in working with the legislature. Our current governor who did not go in with experience kept running into brick walls and then just gave up. I find her commericals pretty obnoxious as to who can be more conservative. Since when is California a conservative state.

Goverments are not run like businesses for a reason. You can't just issue more stock to get more money. Meg worked for eBay during the internet boom where investment into internet businesses was out of control.

Everything she says has been crafted out by marketing people. When trying to ask her a question which she has not been told what to say yet, she never even attempts to answer the question.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2010 @ 11:50 am

How on earth do you back up the assertion that rich people "can't be bought?" That is absurd on the face of it. A consistent characteristic of most rich and powerful people is that they want to be more rich, and more powerful; it's never enuff and power / $$ corrupts. To blithely assume that rich people are somehow "immune" to the corrupting influence of $$ is to make a colossal blunder!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 08, 2010 @ 8:32 am

Tom, whatever her business sense is, the government ain't a business--if I own a company, I call the shots, I don't have two houses of elected officials to deal with.

And as per business, her company is an online auction house, pairing buyers and sellers and not actually manufacturing anything. She is the ultimate middleman (middlewoman?). Her savvy, like that of Craigslist, is that she was first at filling a cybervoid. Nothing else.

Posted by Johnny Wendell on Apr. 05, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

There's two Ls in "appalling," champ.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2010 @ 9:19 am

What you well-to-do Republicans seem to so easily forget is that for the past 28 years there has only been one Democratic governor and he became the first governor in the nation to get recalled. Secondly, all of these Republican governors had the power to line item veto any spending measures presented to them during their terms in office by the democratically controlled legislatures. Democrats during this time period did not have a 2/3 majority needed to override any Republican governors’ veto. Let's get real. When you could have controlled spending you didn't. You need to stop smoking your own mythology. It is making you stupid.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2010 @ 9:51 am

Can Meg SAVE California?? Please! The Meg Whitmans (the instant billionaires) are what's WRONG in California! Whitman and her ilk have no foggy notion what real Californians are going through, what we want, or who we are. Go home, Meg and dive into your tanks of greenbacks like Scrooge McDuck. There is no place for you in California's future.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2010 @ 3:55 pm

Of course you CAN be bought! You'll want to get re-elected without spending more of your own money. So you'll get your bucks from your backers, like every other corporate-beholdend polititian. And let's see, are you more 'business friendly' or 'citizen friendly'?
And now that corporations can give unlimited bucks to campaigns, you'll go for the 'buy it now' price! No bidding necessary, saving you from Duke Cunningham's fate!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

Those of us who listen to the classical radio station have been hearing her message for eight months now. Her drivel is tiring. She should have donated to $50 million she has spent so far on campaigning to charity.

Posted by Barton on Apr. 12, 2010 @ 7:44 am