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Money can't buy happiness -- or elective office

By Jonathan Capehart

One of the lamest arguments against self-financed candidates running for office is that they are buying elections. Campaign graveyards are filled with moguls who thought their business success, boardroom acumen or deep pockets would easily translate to a ballot-box victory. The 2010 midterm elections, once again, proves my point.

Meg Whitman spent an astounding $175 million of her own dough just to get trounced by former governor, current state Attorney General and now future Gov. Jerry Brown. Back in February, when Whitman was running for the Republican nomination, I warned that her vast wealth was not a guarantee. And I rattled off a list of other wealthy candidates who fell over their own money bags: (President) Ross Perot, (Sen.) Michael Huffington, (Gov.) Pierre Reinfret (R-N.Y.).

Proving my point today, The Post's Dan Eggan writes about the self-financed candidates who came up short. Citing data from the Center for Responsive Politics, Eggan notes, "Since 1990, only five of the top 20 self-financed candidates have won." And of the 10 deep-pockets who ran for office in the 2010 midterm elections, only two got elected.


The lesson learned Tuesday is one we seem to relearn every election cycle. Money only buys candidates the ability to get their message out. If that message neither resonates with nor is to the liking of voters, they will not vote for you. People want their voices heard. No amount of money will muffle them.

By Jonathan Capehart  | November 4, 2010; 9:53 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Mr Capehart,

SURE $$$$$$$$$ can buy elections! = the DIRTY MONEY from the GAMBLING INDUSTRY (and perhaps straight from THE MOB! - to SCOTUS: "thanks for nothing" for your STUPID decision in the "Citizen's United" case!) BOUGHT another term for "Prince Harry" Reid.
(one thing that we TEA PARTIERS agree with the POTUS on is that "huge piles of cash" from UNKNOWN donors, from "at home" & abroad, should NOT be allowed in politics.)

we ordinary/non-professionals from the TEA PARTY had him BEATEN, until he got (some local TEA PARTY sources in NV say) 38 MILLION BUCKS from the gamblers.

just my opinion.====> i DO NOT & CANNOT officially speak for our county's TEA PARTY group, absent a vote on each issue.

yours, TN46
coordinartor, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 4, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

In the 1992 election, both Clinton and Bush actually spent more money than did Perot. While Perot spent $63.5 million from his own pocket, the candidates were handed $55.24 from federal matching funds, and received enough from PACs and other groups to put them over Perot's total (I can't find the figures at the moment). Perot had to spend so much of his own money just in order to compete.

Posted by: brianshapiro | November 5, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

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