Tuesday, July 27, 2010

California Perception and Reality: It’s all about Money in the Golden State

In a state where typical candidates are billionaires, executives and actors, is the only way to win an election to buy one?

California voters think so.

53% of California voters say a working class person could not successfully run for a statewide or federal office today.

With 17.2 million registered voters and counting, California isn’t a cheap state to run for office. Just television ads can cost up to $3 million a week. Maybe that’s why the Golden State has higher limits on campaign donations. While a donor maxes out at $2,400 in federal elections, in the California gubernatorial race donors can give up to $25,900. Knowing people in high places sure can help rack up the dollars faster. According to the Consumer Federation of California , the candidate who raises the most money wins 97% of the time and 96% of the funds came from donors who donated more than $250.

It’s not just that candidates can raise money; they’re spending their buckets of their own. Carly Fiorina gave her campaign a $5.5 million boost in the primary. Billionaire Meg Whitman has declared she is willing to spend $150 million of her own money (and has already poured over $90 million into her campaign). Schwarzenegger has donated $23.7 million of his own money to his campaign (including his unsuccessful ballot measures). Al Checchi spent $40 million in the 1998 Democratic Gubernatorial primary to be beaten by Gray Davis.

Californians want to see a stop to this practice. 52% of California voters say there should be a legal cap on the amount of money a candidate can donate to their own campaign.
Luckily, but not surprisingly, there’s a proposition up for vote that might address this issue. I’m not convinced Proposition 15 would push working class people to run for office but it might make it a little bit easier.

Tomorrow we’ll let you know how the billionaire is doing against the________________(I’m on a quest to find out Jerry Brown’s net worth, please email me if you know).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jerry Brown own(ed?) a $1.8 million house in the East Bay and whose wife is a GAP executive. That's probably just the tip of the iceberg since unlike the women of the GOP running today, Jerry Brown is NOT a self-made person as he is the son of former governor. So there's probably a chunk of inherited money there. Kinda tough to break into politics if you're opponent is a beneficiary of nepotism.

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