Meg Whitman

By Jack Chang
jchang@sacbee.com The Sacramento Bee
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Republican Meg Whitman spent $19.5 million on her gubernatorial campaign in 2009, an unprecedented figure nearly a year before Election Day, according to spending reports filed Monday.

By comparison, Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown, who unlike Whitman is unlikely to have serious competition for the party nomination, spent one-fiftieth of that amount last year, or $370,525.

The data leave little doubt this year’s gubernatorial campaign will be the state’s most expensive ever, as Whitman and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, two former Silicon Valley CEOs, fight a multi-million dollar Republican primary.

So far, Whitman has pulled ahead of Poizner in public opinion polls and is closing the gap with Brown, the sole Democrat expected to run.

“They’re spending a lot of money that most campaigns have never been able to even imagine spending before,” said Republican strategist Richard Temple of the Whitman camp. “They’re also raising it, and you can’t argue with their success.”

Whitman collected $10.2 million from donors last year but pulled far ahead of the gubernatorial pack by putting in another $39 million of her own wealth. Brown raised more than $8 million last year for his yet-to-be-declared gubernatorial campaign.

Poizner ranks a distant third in fundraising – at about $2 million last year – although he has also put in much of his own money, about $19 million.

Democratic consultant Steve Maviglio said Brown will likely need to raise at least $35 million and as much as $75 million to compete. But he said Brown’s fundraising numbers should scare off any other Democrats pondering the race.

“It’s an impressive showing, and it’s going to erase a lot of doubts about whether he’s competitive money-wise,” Maviglio said. “On the other hand, he’s not running a campaign so he has no expenses. And (Whitman is) burning through her money like a drunken sailor.”

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