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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Class Conflict Emerges in CA Gov Race Ad War

They’re talking class warfare out in the Golden State, or at least Anthony York is, in his ‘PolitiCal’ blog at the L.A. Times. York spotlights a new ad (see below) from California Working Families entitled “Whitman’s World, which portrays the Republican gubernatorial nominee, not without reason, as a fat-cat jet-setter, who stashes her wealth in an off-shore tax haven. Here’s York’s take:

In the third ad released by California Working Families 2010, the group tries to make the connection between Whitman’s personal penchant for private jets and her economic policies for the state. The ad derisively describes “Whitman’s world,” — a place with “tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy, but nothing for the middle class.”

Whitman has net worth in the ballpark of $1.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine. She is said the be the 4th richest woman in CA, coming from a background of “multiple lines of great wealth & great connections,” according to Hannah Bell of Democratic Underground. Here’s the ad:

It seems like a good strategy. The Brown campaign needs a healthy share of the working class, and Whitman’s ritzy lifestyle is fair game. CA Working Families has already nailed her for failing to vote for 28 years, and then spending $150 mill of her E-Bay fortune to get elected:

Whitman has also taken some heat for reports that she shoved an Asian-American woman employee, when she was E-Bay’s CEO, and the company had to pay “around $200,000” in a settlement. And her Latino-bashing campaign ad (in part of video clip below) didn’t do anything to dispel the upper-class bully meme.

Of course, Whitman has been running hard-hitting attack ads of her own, and she has the money to swamp CA TV in the closing weeks of the campaign. Her campaign will likely provide the definitive test of the power of money over substance in a state-wide campaign.
Whitman’s grand strategy in terms of issues appears to be based on the assumption that she can win the middle class with her tax cut plan, and little else. It doesn’t seem like enough of a program to address the broader concerns of Californians about education, transportation, the environment and other issues. Meanwhile, Brown is knitting together an electoral coalition of CA liberals, Hispanics and working-class voters who find Whitman’s creds as a champion of working people more than a little dubious.

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