Saturday 16 December 2017

Money can't buy you love . . . or an election

Jon Swaine in Miami

AFTER the costliest mid-term campaign in US history, voters rejected candidates who tried to buy power with hundreds of millions of dollars of their own money.

Meg Whitman, the billionaire Republican candidate for governor of California, was beaten despite spending $142m (€100m) of her fortune on her campaign.

Ms Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay, also spent $19m (€13m) in donations, yet lost to Jerry Brown (72), who was governor of the state from 1975 to 1983.

Ms Whitman flooded the airwaves with more than 80,000 advertisements in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese, and set up 90 campaign offices.

She suffered a sharp backlash, especially among poorer voters struggling to recover from the recession in a state whose finances are in dire straits.

Her prospects were also damaged by the disclosure that she had employed an illegal immigrant as a nanny while publicly proposing tougher immigration controls.

Antonio Villaraigosa, the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles, said: "There's an old Beatles song, and it says, 'Money can't buy me love'. And in California, it can't buy you an election, either."

Ms Whitman's personal outlay was the most notable in an election cycle that cost up to $4bn (€2.8bn), according to the Centre for Responsive Politics.

The final tally looked likely to exceed by a third the total in 2006, when $2.8bn (€1.9bn) was spent by candidates and supporting groups.

In Connecticut, Linda McMahon, a former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, lost her run for senator despite using more than $40m (€28m) of her own wealth.

At $37 (€26) per potential voter, her outlay was greater per head than that of Ms Whitman, who used $16 (€11) on each Californian in a much larger state. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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