Meg Whitman, the GOP candidate for California governor, has put $119 million of her own funds into her campaign, making her the most lavishly self-funded candidate in American political history. The former chief executive of eBay is estimated to have a personal wealth of $1.3 billion. With her most recent contribution of $15 million she has overtaken previous record-holder Michael Bloomberg, who spent $109 million of his own money on his 2009 New York mayoral campaign. Some accuse Whitman of using her vast fortune to effectively buy herself the governorship. Is that a fair charge?
Whitman knows money wins elections: These accusations are reasonable enough, says J. Patrick Coolican at L.A. Weekly, given there's nothing Democrat rival Jerry Brown can do that "Whitman can't bury with an avalanche of more money." She defends herself with the "preposterous" claim that "no one can buy elections" because voters are too smart. "Yeah, right." Money wins elections, and the more the better.
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That $119 million has gone straight into the economy: In a capitalist system, rich people make money by "pleasing the rest of society," says Ethan at TwiceRight. And when they spend money, they benefit society too. "Think of all the jobs [Whitman] created with that money." It has made its way from "strategists, to media outlets, to door-to-door organizers." Why must liberals attack her for "spreading her wealth around"?
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All that money hasn't translated to votes just yet: If Whitman is trying to buy her way to power, says Holly Bailey at Yahoo! News, she's still got a way to go. Her cash may have bought her "virtually nonstop" ads in California, but she and Brown are still "nearly tied in the race." Big spending typically happens in the weeks leading up to Election Day. "How far will Whitman go to try to win?"
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Whitman will spend whatever it takes to buy this election: You ain't seen nothing yet, says Yobie Benjamin at the San Francisco Chronicle. Until this "one-woman stimulus package" for the political advertising industry has a clear lead over Brown, the "final bid and price" for the governorship will be undecided — and the cash will keep flowing. "Like in eBay, all the action really happens in the last few moments before the close of the auction."
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