Whitman's stalled drive to outright buy the governorship is fortunate for the most populous state in the union, as the very last thing economically-ailing California needs is another extremely wealthy political neophyte who fervently believes that, despite her total lack of political experience, that she has all the answers to manage what would be, on a stand-alone basis, the eighth largest economy in the world.
By Labor Day, Whitman, a former Goldman Sachs board member, had lent to her campaign coffers and spent more than $100 million, much of it lavished on gorgeous, uber-cool, content-free TV ads that have blanketed the state for months. (I defy anyone to watch one of Whitman's feel-good TV spots, and be able to articulate her position on... well, any top issue.)
In contrast, Brown ran his first TV ad over Labor Day weekend, and had spent no more than $1 million on his frugal campaign efforts. Brown's characteristic tendencies toward slight annoying (to liberals) fiscal conservatism haven't changed over his three decades of public service: "Democrat Jerry Brown had raised $24.3 million as of June 30 and spent just $519,000," per the Orange County Register.
Despite outspending Brown by a ratio of more than 100-to-1, Whitman has mustered only a 1.5 point lead, per RealClearPolitics.com poll averages, which is well within the margin of error. Whitman's early big spending has failed to either define herself as a viable leader, or to preemptively eliminate Jerry Brown from competition.
That, too, is fortunate for California, as Whitman's actual plans and proposals for the Golden State are absolutely wrong for these tough times, and would badly exacerbate the terrible fiscal mess and sky-high unemployment created by Whitman's fellow Republican celebrity Governator Arnold. Among Whitman's worst ideas are:
- Replacement of 40,000 state employees by outsourcing or privatizing state services to for-profit corporations.
- Major reduction or outright elimination of a wide range of business taxes.
- Cutting back funding for California's underfunded public education system, apparently by reducing "50 categorical grants, many of which which are duplicative and far to prescriptive, into simplified grants... "
- Her firm pledge to roll back California's historic clean energy and climate legislation, at least for a year, in her continued effort to help corporations at all costs.
It's no wonder that twenty top California economists, led by Nobel Laureate Kenneth Arrow of Stanford University, banded together last month to warn Californians that:
"The evidence and theory that Whitman uses to diagnose California's problems are unscientific and an unsound basis for policy. As a result, her diagnosis and her proposed economic policies are both deeply flawed. If implemented, her policy proposals will deepen California's budget crisis and are likely to reduce employment and economic growth."
It's also no wonder that, before Californians could understand her horribly misguided agenda, billionaire Meg Whitman sought early on to crush gubernatorial competition with her vast fortune via content-free, feel-good moments of TV bliss that mindlessly burble on about "creating jobs" and "fixing our schools."
Californians have been through too much economic disaster with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's inexperience, arrogant self-confidence, and massively failed ideas. They're not about to make that same mistake again.
Read Profile of Jerry Brown, California Governor Candidate, who is precisely the right leader at the right, difficult time to make an improbable return to be California Governor.
Also take the time to read 2010 Governors' Races - Who's Winning, Who's Losing - News, Inside Analysis of 2010 State Governors' Races.
(Photo of California Attorney General Jerry Brown taken on August 31, 2010: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)