California governor's race: All about the money?
Personal wealth is both an asset and drawback for GOP candidates in the California governor's race. Republican billionaire Meg Whitman has put another $20 million into her campaign.
(Page 2 of 2)
Still, wealth is not necessarily a negative. It depends how the economy is doing come Election Day, and how candidates play the other issues, analysts say.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“Some people may resent candidates who pay for their own campaigns, but self-financers can claim to be independent of special interests,” says Jack Pitney, political scientist at Claremont McKenna College. “I grew up in Nelson Rockefeller’s New York. People knew one thing about Rocky: He couldn’t possibly be on the take, since he already had more money than anybody else.”
Wealth also helps with name recognition. Poizner holds statewide office, but relatively few Californians are familiar with him, notes Mr. Pitney. He also points to Chuck DeVore, an Orange County assemblyman running for US Senate who, without great personal wealth, is having trouble attracting statewide media attention.
“California TV stations give almost zero coverage to state politics,” says Pitney. “Schwarzenegger gets air time because he’s the Terminator, not because he’s the governor.”
Mr. Brown, a two-term governor, has high name recognition, but analysts worry Californians won’t recognize him.
“Many Californians probably carry a mental image of the Jerry Brown of the 1970s, ’80s, and early ’90s,” says Pitney. “I suspect the first time he debates his opponent on TV, many viewers will ask themselves, ‘Why is that old, bald guy standing where Jerry Brown is supposed to be?’ ”
The Scott Brown factor
The race is beginning to shake out in other ways. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome, a Democrat, has dropped out after falling behind in the polls, while GOP contender and former congressman Tom Campbell has decided to run against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) for the US Senate seat instead.
The possible entrance of US Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California into the governor’s race – although she has expressed no interest so far – could change everything, say analysts. And the dynamics of national politics will also play into the California governor’s race.
“Jerry Brown must be less confident today of victory than he was last week," Mr. Stern of the Center for Government Studies says, citing Republican Scott Brown’s recent victory in Massachusetts’ Senate race.
Follow us on Twitter.