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Cash Fueled

According to a report I heard second-hand today, Meg Whitman, Republican contender for the Californian governorship, has spent $100,000,000 so far on her bid, while Democrat Jerry Brown has spent only $900,000. (A quick net search confirms both figures, but not from a single source, so I’m not sure these numbers compare apples to apples. Take it for what it’s worth.) The news, as I first encountered it, was presented with a note of triumph: despite the hundred-to-one ratio of campaign expenditures, Whitman has merely pulled even with Brown.

I’m not sure triumph is appropriate. All right, so she’s only drawn even, but that means: She’s drawn even. Coming from the relative obscurity of the CEO seat at eBay (which she screwed up), she’s now running even with the state’s attorney general and former governor, a huge disadvantage in name recognition. Since name recognition takes on exaggerated importance in the early stages of a campaign, when nobody knows much about the candidates, Whitman is even and gaining. At enormous expense, to be sure, but the lesson I’m taking away from this is that the office is for sale, to anyone who can afford the hundred million entrance fee.

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