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Steve Lopez: Meg Whitman spent $50 for each vote she got. Is that an outrageous extravagance?



If you want to find something to feel good about in Tuesday's election results, look to the fact that money isn't everything.

As of Oct. 16, according to the secretary of state's office, Meg Whitman spent almost $107 million on TV and radio advertising to Jerry Brown's $21 million.

She spent $11.7 million on campaign consultants to Brown's $167,000.

She spent $10.5 million on campaign literature and mailings to Brown's $2.5 million.

She spent $5.9 million on campaign worker salaries to Brown's $157,000.

She spent $2.3 million on office expenses to Brown's $132,000.

Total expenditures? Whitman spent six times as much, or $160 million -- $141 million of it her own -- to Brown's $24.8 million.

You'd think the former EBay exec would know a good deal when she sees one, but she ended up paying roughly $50 for each of her 3 million-plus votes, and got trounced.

Maybe it wasn't too bright, after all, to outspend Brown by more than six times while trying to cast herself as a cost-cutter and Brown as a big spender.

But did Whitman lose because voters were turned off by her outrageous extravagance at a time when unemployment is in double-digits? Or did she lose because she didn't have the goods on policy?

I'd say both things did her in, as did her cold-fish personality and the revelation that as a student, she had apparently skipped classes on both civics and suffrage, having gone decades without stepping inside a polling booth.

But I say Whitman would have done much better if she had explained how exactly she intended to fire 40,000 state employees while growing the economy, improving schools and slashing spending. If she'd made any of it seem even remotely realistic, she might even have won, no matter how much cash she set fire to.

Don't you think?

-- Steve Lopez

Photos: Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (291)

Great article! I agree with you also one important point to considerer is the fact that she lost the Hispanic and Latinos vote. The moment that she said that she will be "hard as nail" with the undocumented immigrants and when she said in Fax News that her former housekeeper should be deported that’s what made her loose Hispanics and women vote.

As far as I'm concerned Mr. Lopez, Meg Whitman EARNED her money and can use it as she sees fit! She certainly didn't inherit if from you! Jerry Brown wasn't much of a governor the 8 yrs he was ruining California...oops freudian slip, running California, too busy courting Linda Ronstatd, had other things on his beedie brain, I'm just saying...the only reason he won is because he USED Nicky Diaz and so did Gloria Allred! So Mr. Lopez the ball is in your court tell us what you or your paper are going to do about the lying illegal immigrant who committed a felony for knowinly using someone else's Social Security number to gain employment? She needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and Jerry is just the man to do it...ah but wait...it wouldn't benefit him, that happened when she opened her lying mouth! Nicky Diaz has already served her purpose! She, Gloria and Jerry knew what they did was under handed and unethical but then that's a Democrat, don't YOU think?

i was happy to see meg use her own money for the election. she could afford it and didn't hurt the economy infusing that money. i understand the nanny state that has been created here by the politicians and unions but when will a tipping point happen. i don't see why we keep re-electing the same complete failures every time. i think we haven't seen anything yet in terms of business and jobs leaving ca. i would like to see a ballot initiative calling for term limits both at the state and national level.

One must see the positive side of spending $141 Million. This Money, at least, is in circulation with people.

If she spent the same amount to house the homeless, or rebuild wetlands areas, imagine how much good she could have done. But, then she is a megomaniac, and hardly seems to be aware of anything beyond her own shadow.

It goes to show that you can't buy everything in life. Good Lesson for Whitman, Brown, will mess up this state regardless, he's a politician, and he look's out for #1 in the end.

She should have bought her votes on Ebay. She would have gotten a better deal.


She spends $150 million trying to buy our vote, but could not spend 10 thousand for a good immigration attorney ? I'm sure the house keeper would have not said a word to Gloria...It's obvious she does not have the brain power to be governor.

Spending her private money is much more a part of a good economic decision than spending the government's. The reason she lost is because so many in our state are on the payroll or welfare and they are afraid of change. Yes unemployment or lower pay is needed...we are experiencing it within our household and at work, why shouldn't the government also. It would be for the good of the whole state.

For $150 million should could have bought a small country or Alabama and named herself President..

I wonder how someone w/ Meg W. business stature could overlook the fact that OUTSPENDING your opponent by such a gross amount of money would not go against you. Meg Whitman overlooked this tiny matter. But not to worry, Meg reportedly has $1.3b so $130million is pocket-change to her.

Note to Mark Kimber; you may want to take a look @ the latest 2010 Census stats thus far, though the African-American community in Ca. is a viable part of the state they compromise a small percentage in the great State of California.


Hi Steve,

When they said brains you must have said they sad trains and you missed yours.

If you really want an honest count of what it cost per vote then you need to factor in what it cost the taxpayer when Jerry bought the unions by alllowing them free rein with the public employees.

Meg spent her money. She doesn't need my permission to do that. Jerry spent my money and the way he got my permission was reprehensible at best.

My guess is that the union panderers will continue to win as long as the rest of the electorate can't find, or read, the ballot.

I think I'll just take my social security and move out of state like all of the employeers are doing and let the government hacks figure out how to make a paycheck when the last taxpayer has left.

Where will that leave you???

Don't let the barn door hit you on the way out.

I think it's great! The fact that she has never held an office, and will do more for the California economy than Jerry Brown will ever do, it fantastic! Thanks Meg! We got the last boost we will ever get here in California!

To Jim who posted at 9:36 am today... wow. she DID OUT SPEND him, by 6 times. $$$$$$ is not the answer, beside all that $$$$ was taken from your fellow Californians by that Crooked woman who claims to care about people... yeah right. wake up and smell the Dems. It's not about how much $$$$ you take from people to BUY an election,it's about helping those who are needing someone to make things better. spending that kind of $$$ is just an insult to ALL AMERICANS!!!

shut up steve. Your opinions suck, your articles suck, your book sucked.

get some ethics

I love reading the comments of all the sore losers.

And if she gets to WRITE that OFF, then I should never have to pay taxes AGAIN!!! When are you people going to wake up?!?!?!?!

Thanks Meg for the stimulus package for the state. It is most appreciated. I got turned off right after the primaries. She was beating on Brown before it was even over. To hear all the negativity just turned me off. I would have liked to see an informercial or something about 2 weeks before the election that would have shown what she was going to do. Never saw the debates but saw parts of it on youtube. She's just not likeable. That's all I can say. I guess now she can sell memorabilia on ebay to make back some money. I wonder if she'll get a discount on seller fees?

Hey, if you've got it and you can afford it, you can spend it.

My union have been spending union members money to buy the candidate of their choice for years!This year they said one week before the election the union did not have enough money in the health program to pay medical bills,so they increased our monthly cost by a $100.00 an at the same time they spent close too $750.000.00,on campaigns to get only democratics elected.They say only democrates will get them jobs.The last time Brown was Govenor he stopped all freeway construction,which put a lot people out of work! He does not have a plan! They did not Campaign,they just lied about the other person running against them!He only wanted to be govenor so he can run for president,just like before!If you are a democrate you do not have to have a platform you are guaranteed you are going to win even if you are dead!

Meg Whitman has done more for the California economy in the last few months than any of our elected officaials. She distributed $141 million of her own money into the California ecomnomy and it didn't cost the taxpayers a thing. For this you are critisizing her, she may not be "political enough" but do you really think that the people that have been "political enough" in the last few decades have really been looking out for the citizenry? If you do then they will gladly keep fleecing you and lining there own pockets or those of there frinds.

Econ 101 for you you Mrs. Whitman.

$50 per vote means nothing to a billionaire. Further, she could have
got more mileage out of generously giving a similar amount to needy
non-profits who serve children or other needy group.

Well, the funny thing is, this newspaper endorsed a guy who openly stated on CNN, he lied to get into office the first time, admitted to never having any plan for the state, and further stated he and nobody on the outside looking in, could really know how they would handle the state. his exact words,"It's impossible".

A professional liar, you know, if having experience makes the same kind of politician, which has driven this state and nation into the toilet, then guess what, I don't want someone with experience taking office.

It's funny the left said Meg had no experience in politics for this job. They harped on it. Yet when the President ran and many stated he had no experience, the left said move on and never addressed the lack of.

Now look what has happened. Don;t blame bush, it was on Clintons watch the terorist plotted 9/11. Bush's hand was forced based on the democrats wisdon of removing money from the security of this country.

Meg was the lesser of two evils.

you'll see

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