California Governor's Race Shows Limits Of Money

The message of Democrat Jerry Brown's win in the California governor's race over billionaire Republican Meg Whitman appears to be one that has been seen before in the state, that the candidate who spends the most money doesn't necessarily come away with the most votes.

At a time when there are so many concerns about the corrupting influence of money in politics, it's a message many people will welcome.

Brown, who was elected the state's youngest governor since the 1850s when he was first elected to the chief executive's job in 1975, is now the oldest person elected governor at age 72.

The one-time seminarian is also the former mayor of Oakland and is California's attorney general. He's also the son of Edmund "Pat" Brown who also served as California governor. In a year when voters demanded change, he successfully made the case for experience.

Whitman, who spent more than $140 million of her own fortune on the campaign couldn't seem to overcome the impression that she was trying to buy the race.

She also had some major self-inflicted wounds, especially after news broke that she had employed for nine years an undocumented immigrant. Whitman's version of the story conflicted with her former housekeeper's who in an emotional news conference accused the former eBay CEO of throwing her under the bus for political reasons.

Whitman's loss was reminiscent of the 1994 Senate run in California by Michael Huffington, a former Congressman who spent a then-record $28 million back then for his unsuccessful run and the ex-husband of Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington.

In another eerie similarity to Whitman, his bid was also hurt by the revelation that his family had hired an undocumented immigrant as a nanny.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.