It was a GOP primary for the record books. Between the two of them, former Ebay CEO Meg Whitman and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner spent nearly 100 million dollars vying for their party’s nomination. Billionaire Whitman donated roughly 70 million of her own money.
O'Connor: “Money can buy you love, at least in the Republican primary.”
Barbara O’Connor heads up the Institute for the study of Politics and Media at Sacramento State. She says the November general election will be pricey, too. Whitman has said she’ll double her contributions, and Attorney General Jerry Brown, the Democratic candidate, has more than 20 million in the bank. However, O’Connor says the campaigns will probably use their money in different ways going forward:
O'Connor: “I think people who want to win in California need to start to have a coherent message about what their winning will mean for the average person living in California. It has to be that granular. And that’s better done with things other than broadcast ads.”
O’Connor says that means more use of social media to appeal to younger and non-partisan voters. And she says given the negative attack ads of the GOP primary, the candidates would be smart to avoid that strategy now.
(Crowd Chanting) “We want Meg. We want Meg….”
However, Meg Whitman’s victory speech included some harsh words about Jerry Brown:
Whitman: “Overall, a record of higher and higher taxes, more and more spending and near record unemployment. In other words, a 40-year record of politics as usual.”
Brown’s victory address was also part stump speech. He slammed the idea that what he called a “rich and restless” candidate could simply decide to run for Governor. And he touted his own record as a former Governor:
Brown: “I have the preparation, I have the know-how and I have the independence to challenge the status quo and get our legislators to work together.”
One key issue likely to dominate state government – and the campaigns – over the next few months is California’s 19 billion dollar budget shortfall. Jack Pitney is a Professor of Politics at Claremont McKenna College. He says it’s a thorny one for candidates:
Pitney: “The paradox is that it’s the most important issue facing the state and yet one that politicians want to avoid talking about in great detail because the only things you can do are cut spending or raise taxes.”
The budget crisis and accompanying tough decisions are likely to form a sharp contrast to the millions being poured into the campaigns for Governor.