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Whitman sets personal campaign spending record

September 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Republican candidate for California governor Meg Whitman has set a record, spending more of her own money on her campaign than any political candidate in U.S. history.With less than two months to go until the November elections, Whitman's latest bit of self-funding has pushed her past the previous record holder, fellow billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spent $109 million in his bid for a third term last year.

Whitman talked to voters in Culver City Tuesday, the same day she wrote her campaign a $15 million check. It was that money that pushed the former EBay chief executive officer to a new record for campaign spending, bringing her personal donation to $119 million.

Whitman has spent much of her campaign money on TV ads attacking her opponent, California attorney general and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown -- including an advertisement featuring former President Bill Clinton.

Whitman's team has refused to pull the ad despite Clinton's endorsement of Brown for governor, and the findings by a nonpartisan fact-checking group and the state department of finance, which say taxes actually went down when Brown was governor from 1975 to 1983.

"Voters always say that they hate those ads," said political analyst Darry Sragow. "The truth is they make up their minds based on those ads, and that's why campaigns keep running them, even though they get criticized."

With less than two months to go until election day, Brown's campaign has also taken to the airwaves with its own round of attack ads on Whitman. This week, Brown launched two 15-second spots painting his GOP opponent as a "Pinocchio."

As for the cost of the campaign, Whitman has defended her exuberant spending.

"When I go to Sacramento, I will go with the independents because I do not owe anyone anything except for the voters of California, so I think it's an advantage, actually," said Whitman.

"She started from scratch. She's never run for office before, and when this is all over everybody is going to know about her. Whether they like her or don't like her or are going to vote for her is a different question," said Sragow.

According to Forbes magazine, Whitman's financial net worth is about $1.3 billion as of March 2010.

The most recent Eyewitness News/SurveyUSA poll shows Whitman with a 7 percent lead over Brown.


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