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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Big Campaigns For Small Government

One of the ironies of this campaign year is the number of free-spending rich Republican candidates who are pouring the golden parachutes they earned when exiting (often nonvoluntarily) the private sector to rant against public spending.
We’re seeing a particularly rich example of this dichotomy in Calfornia, where Meg Whitman, who is promising to squeeze public expenditures and lay off many thousands of state workers, is showing just how lavish a campaign apparatus you can buy with around $150 million.
Here’s is Calbuzz’s summary of a chart of Team Whitman helpfully offered by Jerry Brown’s campaign:

Counting people up, across and over (which sometimes puts people in more than one sector of the Invasion of Normandy graphic) we find eight people in scheduling and advance, 10 staff and consultants in policy, 16 in coalitions, 16 in field operations, 27 in fund-raising and finance and 24 in communications, including eight in the research group.
“In the green box marked ‘Miscellaneous Campaign Staff,’ there are an additional four staffers who have made more than $100,000 from Whitman, and we have no idea what they’re doing,” Brown’s research director told Calbuzz.
Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer likens Whitman’s campaign to a massive aircraft carrier that is stalled in the middle of the ocean, floating listlessly, unable to gain momentum despite spending millions and millions and millions on TV and radio advertising, internet communications, mail, telephone banks, fundraising, event planning and execution – you name it, USS eMeg has paid for it.
Whether that’s an accurate portrayal of a campaign operation with no equal in the history of California is still uncertain. This we know: No governor’s office we’re aware of ever had such a massive org chart, unless you count all the agencies and departments that are part of an administration and the CHP protective detail.
Also, no one in a governor’s office ever made this kind of money: strategist Mike Murphy’s Bonaparte Productions, $861,474; adviser Henry Gomez, $769,216; campaign manager Jilian Hasner, $667,552; adviser Jeff Randle, $572,949; security director John Endert, $261,682; communications director Tucker Bounds, $293,349; press secretary Sarah Pompei, $154,872; yadayadayada. That’s not even all the big-tick items and it’s only up to the most recent financial reporting period.

The grand irony is that anti-government campaigns like Whitman’s are like big dinner bells for the political class, offering lots of jobs at unusually high pay in the pursuit, we are told, of tight-fisted austerity. Even if eMeg loses, Republican political operatives will remember her campaign fondly for many years as a wonderful interval when no political attack was too unconscionable and no expense too high.
If she wins, California public employees could have a hard time. But it’s more than a psychic flash to guess that Whitman’s political operations, whether it’s on the public payroll or supported by what’s left of her vast fortune, won’t suffer from lack of financial support.

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