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Meg Whitman spent $27 million on governor’s race in last 11 weeks

March 22, 2010 |  7:49 pm

Republican Meg Whitman spent $27 million on her campaign for governor in the first 11 weeks of this year, according to a disclosure report she filed today. The record-shattering pace stems largely from a television ad blitz intended to portray Whitman positively in the minds of voters and tarnish her opponents.

By contrast, Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, the leading Democrat in the governor's race, spent $142,000 since Jan. 1. Although Brown is not facing a serious primary opponent and Whitman is, that difference would not normally result in one candidate spending 190 times more than another in less than three months. In an appeal to donors on his campaign website, Brown said the "spending binge to purchase California's airwaves is shocking."

He has $14 million on hand, the result of fundraising since the beginning of last year. Whitman, the billionaire ex-chief of EBay, has poured $39 million of her own money into her campaign over the same period; and, with additional fundraising, spent a total of $46 million since joining the race in early 2009.

Whitman has spent nine times as much so far this year as Steve Poizner, the Republican state insurance commissioner running against her in the June 8 primary. He has been punished incessantly by Whitman's "Can't Trust Steve" ads on shows such as "American Idol." Poizner lagged nearly 50 points behind her in last week's Field Poll.

Whitman's spokesman, Tucker Bounds, said the "campaign's budget is designed for victory ... and we're seeing positive results. We have incredible momentum moving toward election day."

Poizner has spent $3 million since Jan. 1 but has almost stopped raising money, collecting only $95,000 this year, his campaign filing shows.

"We've focused much more on policy and grass-roots events," Poizner's spokesman, Jarrod Agen, said. "Meg Whitman wants to make this election about money because she's wrong on the issues."

A former Silicon Valley entrepreneur who can afford to fund his own campaign, Poizner began running television ads this month, but far fewer than Whitman. He has said he will wait until closer to the primary to begin unloading a war chest that now stands at $14.9 million.

-- Michael Rothfeld in Sacramento