Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Post California primary election thoughts

It is midterm election year, and yesterday was the Election Day for the California primary race. While I have been rather busy taking Digital Media classes at West Valley Community College, I've been keeping my eyes on the races taking place here. And I've been thinking about the races as well.

For the past five months, the attention has been focused on two big California races here--both Republican races. The first race has been for the Republican nomination to the California governor's office, pitting former eBay CEO Meg Whitman against California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. Whitman announced her candidacy for the governor's office back in September, 2009, and has spent $81 million on the primary election--much of it on slick campaign ads attacking Poizner as being a liberal politician. What is even more interesting is that Whitman has completely avoided talking to reporters, even to the point of calling a press conference, before ejecting reporters out of the conference. Instead, what we get is Meg "The Invisible Candidate" Whitman, who is only interested in promising the sun, sky, and moon on campaign commercials, or appearing on "town hall" infomercials that are nothing more than extended campaign commercials for The Invisible Candidate. Oh, and let us not forget that The Invisible Candidate never voted in elections for decades, even as she was eBay's CEO. Most of this is old political news, but it is interesting that Whitman was able to survive these scandals, and still beat Poizner 65 percent to 26 percent. I should also say that while Whitman spent almost $71 million of her own money on her campaign, Poizner spent $24 million of his own money on his campaign. In other words, we had an over $100 million primary campaign by ubber-rich candidates. And the candidate who spent the most of their own money--Whitman--won the primary. In fact, this was not a GOP primary election--it was a GOP party auction as to who would be selected to purchase the California governor's mansion in November. And The Invisible Candidate Meg Whitman is on her way towards purchasing the California governorship.

She just has to beat Democratic candidate Attorney General Jerry Brown.

The second big Republican primary race was with the U.S. Senate, where Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina defeated former congressman Tom Campbell for a shot at taking on Senator Barbara Boxer in November. This race kind of stayed in the shadows, considering the deluge of Whitman campaign negative ads against Poizner for the past six months. Fiorina has spent around $6.7 million of her own cash on the campaign. Interestingly, according to this ABC News story, Fiorina outspent both Campbell's $1.7 million, and Irvine Assemblyman Chuck DeVore's $2.1 million to come out ahead with more than 55 percent of the vote.

What does this all mean? We've heard that money can buy political access, but I've never seen the extent of money influencing elections as I have with this race. Meg Whitman spent $71 million of her own money to defeat Steve Poizner, who spent $24 million of his own money, for the GOP governor's primary. This is an extreme example of ubber-elites spending gobs of money the governor's mansion? Why is Meg Whitman spending $71 million for an office that pays only $212,000 a year? Somehow Meg's responses of "serving the people," or "cleaning up the corruption" in Sacramento seems like bull crap. Of course it is even more ironic that Whitman, who touts her business credentials as a positive for cleaning up Sacramento politics, is running for an office that is currently held by another GOP businessman who also touted his business credentials for cleaning up Sacramento politics--and look where his poll numbers are. Why is Meg spending so much of her own money to buy the California governorship?

While Carly Fiorina may not have spent the obscene amounts of money that both Whitman and Poizner spent for their races, she still outspent both Campbell and DeVore by 3x for the U.S. Senate primary race. And Fiorina was fired from Hewlett Packard with a $21 million severance package. Why is Carly spending so much of her own money to buy a U.S. Senate seat?

So very troubling.

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