Money Talks, Or Not
Politics and money. Welcome to the California election 2010.
Meg Whitman, net worth 1.3 billion, trounced Steve Poizner, net worth 1 billion, in the Republican primary for Governor. She outspent him.
Carly Fiorina, net worth a mere $30 million, beat Tom Campbell, net worth not available, in the Republican Senate primary. He’s had a distinguished academic and political career but always complains about his lack of money when running for office.
In the Golden State, there are two special fonts of fortune--Hollywood and Silicone Valley--and both have been springboards to political success. Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger never lacked for a war chest. Meg and Carly gathered their chips at Ebay and Hewlett Packard.
Meg has used $100 million of her own stash, out-spending Democratic rival Jerry Brown 150-1. He’s got $24 million in campaign contributions, but begs for money regularly through emails and invites you to “check out the great new apparel and Jerry gear for sale,” proceeds going to the campaign. Maybe he could tap Linda Ronstadt, his old flame, for some help.
Carly is challenging incumbent Barbara Boxer. With a blind trust estimated to be $1-$5 million, she’s not a pauper. Plus she boasts $17 million in a campaign chest. But Carly has just begun to spend her personal fortune. Barbara is crying foul for running against “big wealth.”
Both races are a dead heat.
Is there anyone vying for a national office anywhere who isn’t rich? Yes. How about broke? Yes. Meet the Democratic Senate nominee from South Carolina.
He’s an unemployed black war veteran who lives with his father, doesn’t own a computer or cell phone, and has $114 in his campaign fund. Alvin Greene handily whipped Vic Rawls, a well-known former judge and four term state legislator in the Democratic primary. How? No one is quite sure.
Democrats are apoplectic. The House Majority Whip, James Clyburn of South Carolina, smells a conspiracy that planted the candidate and courted a crossover Republican vote. Clayburn says of the primary: “There’s elephant dung all over the place.” Most observers dismiss his claim. No evidence of skullduggery has been uncovered. One explanation is that Green’s name came alphabetically before Rawls in a two-person ballot.
The unlikely victory is tainted by revelations that Greene is facing an obscenity charge involving a young co-ed. Nevertheless, he’s off and running. Any Democrat would have an uphill battle against popular Republican Jim DeMint. But the 32 year-old neophyte is living proof that the dream is not dead. Only in America. Or maybe only in South Carolina.