Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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California Senate Race: Flying Economy, Begging for Peanuts

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If you’ve flown recently (with the exception of class-neutral Southwest Airlines), then you can appreciate the disparity between California’s Senate and gubernatorial Republican primaries.

Sitting in first-class: Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. Between them, they’ve donated almost $60 million to their gubernatorial efforts, with promises of millions more on the way). That makes for political champagne and caviar — plenty of money for consultants, focus groups, oppo research and media buys.

Meanwhile, sitting back in economy, the three Republicans running against Barbara Boxer: Tom Campbell, Chuck DeVore and Carly Fiorina. And, from the look$ of it: they’re scrounging for peanuts.  None is broke . . . but none comes even remotely close to Whit-zner’s mega-millions — and that includes Fiorina, a millionaire from her HP days.

Flying economy in the GOP Senate primary?

As was reported late last week, Fiorina had $2.75 million in cash at the end of 2009, compared to just $226,364 for DeVore (Campbell only recently jumped into the Senate fray, so his fundraising has barely started). But Fiorina only owns that advantage due to loaning herself $2.5 million.

Meanwhile, there’s the Boxer money machine. Although she has no real opponent until June, the senator nonetheless outspent her GOP rivals in the fourth quarter of 2009 (click here to see how Team Boxer spends its dough).

Money may be at the root of all evil — it’s also at the heart of unseating Boxer. Any serious Republican challenger will need three piles of cash to get the job done. That’s millions to run a positive biographical/issues campaign; millions to make the argument why Boxer doesn’t deserve a fourth term; and still more millions to fend off the inevitable negative barrage from the incumbent.

If you think money doesn’t matter in California Senate races, I suggest you talk to Bill Jones, the former state Secretary of State who took on Boxer in 2004. Lacking the resources to run tv ads, Jones collected a million votes fewer than George W. Bush, who was hardly  beloved figure in the Golden State.

Speaking of peanuts, keep an eye on DeVore’s finances. Today, the Orange County Assemblyman has launched a one-day “moneybomb” effort (Internet donations) with a stated goal of $60,000 by night’s end.  Problem is, that’s not a terribly ambitious goal, by other Republicans’ standards.   On January 11, Senate wunderkind Scott Brown netted $1.3 million via a one-day “moneybomb” (in all, Brown collected more than $12 million online during the last weeks of his upset win in the Massachusetts special election).

The bottom line in the Senate GOP primary: ask not what you can do for California . . . ask for a lot more from California donors.


Written by Bill Whalen

February 1, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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