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.
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