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Meg Whitman's money can't buy votes

Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay who is worth $1.4 billion, according to Forbes Magazine, wants to be governor of California. She has campaigned around the Golden State for more than a year, and she hasn't been shy about dipping into her rather deep pockets to finance her run. So, it was inevitable that she'd be accused of trying to buy the election. Inevitable and lazy.

Money only buys you the ability to get your message out. It doesn't automatically translate into votes. If it did the history books would be filled with tales about President Ross Perot, 1996 and 2000 Republican presidential nominee Steve Forbes, Sen. Michael Huffington (R-Calif.) or New York Gov. Pierre Rinfret (R). Despite the money they spent, these candidates went nowhere because the voters didn't buy what they were selling. Mayor Mike Bloomberg, for whom I worked during his first campaign in 2001, spent $108 million of his own money to be reelected to a third term by just 5 points. He was reelected in 2005 by 20 points. Voter anger over the repeal of New York City's term-limits law at his behest almost did him in, despite his considerable achievements during his previous eight years in City Hall. So, to say that elections can be bought is an insult to the voters who bother to show up at the ballot box to make their voices heard.

Whitman has until June 8 to convince Republican voters she should be their nominee, and then she has until November to convince the rest of California that she should be governor. How she runs her race, her prescriptions for the state's massive budget problems and her positions on key issues will ultimately determine whether Whitman moves to Sacramento.

Update, 5:45 p.m.: A previous version of this post listed Whitman's net worth at $1.9 billion. It is $1.4 billion. The text above has been changed to reflect this.

By Jonathan Capehart  | February 17, 2010; 1:06 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

Huh?

Michael Bloomberg is your example of NOT buying an election?

If Michael Bloomberg was President of small Latin America country we'd accuse him of running a banana republic!

Posted by: DonRitchie | February 17, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

MEG WHITMAN CEO OF EBAY WANT'S TO BE GOVENOR OF CALIFORNIA!

MEG WILL RAISE YOUR TAXES! CHARGE YOU A FEE FOR HAVING TO RAISE YOUR TAXES!, THEN SHE WILL CHARGE YOU A FINAL VALUE FEE FOR RAISING YOUR TAXES! THEN WHEN YOU PAY YOUR TAXES, SHE WILL DIRECT YOU TO PAYPAL TO PAY FOR THEM AND CHARGE YOU ANOTHER FEE FOR USING PAYPAL TO PAY YOUR TAXES!!!
THINK TWICE PEOPLE!

CHECK OUT WEBSITE AUCTIONBYTES.COM TO LEARN WHAT GREEDY SNAKES SHE AND THE NEW CEO OF EBAY ARE REALLY LIKE!!

Posted by: Julie23 | February 17, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Why in the world would a billionaire want to be gov? If it's for altruistic reasons, i.e. "I want to contribute to the good of the people of California", then just kick down some of those $$$ to the school system or health care system. Now THAT would be good for the State of California and its citizens. Otherwise, just go have an around-the-world vaction or something.

Posted by: jcw1 | February 17, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Wait! You try to make it sound like money is irrelevant. Huh? Mabye just a little infatuated w/ your former boss?

Posted by: ewsnyder | February 18, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

That's wrong to say money can't buy a seat--bloomberg's last purchase price was higher.

And data from the group open secrets reveals that the winner in 96-97% of all Congressional races SPENT MORE MONEY.

Only 3-4% of candidates could make it into Congress by spending LESS than their opponent.

Those figures shocked me. It's almost as if we could do a silent auction for political offices.

Look it up yourself on Open Secretes if you don't believe it.

Posted by: womenmakenews | February 19, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

The headline of this piece is so unfair! Meg Whitman is not trying to “buy” votes! Why are people criticizing her for contributing her own money? She cares deeply about California and she’s a very bright woman! That’s the real story! Why is the Washington Post so hard on good Republicans?

Posted by: amyhass35 | February 22, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm a native Californian - here over 52 years. We didn't do badly under Jerry Brown - seems to me the state ran a lot smoother back in those days! Truth is, we could do far far worse....like Meg Whitman - someone who didn't care if California fell into the sea - not even bothering to vote here for 20 years! I was an Ebay seller for almost 8 years - so you can say I know both Whitman and Brown and Whitman wants in for one reason only....to line HER pockets like she did with Ebay! This woman had nothing but arrogance and disdain for Ebay sellers - whatever compassion do you think she'll have for California taxpayers?? You really want to know what Meg's character is really like...? Ebay owns Paypal... Visit paypalsucks.com and read about how safe Paypal really is to use... Read what Paypal's user agreement actually says... If you want to know more about Meg and Ebay, visit Youtube.com and type her name in the search box...

Posted by: 4evrjung | February 24, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

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