By Jack Chang
jchang@sacbee.com
Published: Monday, Jun. 28, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1A

One gubernatorial campaign employs nearly 70 people and contracts with dozens of others as it spares no expense finding new ways to craft and broadcast its messages.

Another relies largely on the spontaneity of its candidate with minimal infrastructure and almost nothing in the way of marketing dazzle.

The candidates are Republican Meg Whitman and her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown, and their battle for the governor’s office is shaping up as a study in contrasting campaign styles.

The billionaire Republican has put $91 million of her own money in the race. Brown, who is worth several million dollars, has put $6,500 of his money into the campaign; as of mid-May he had spent $321,801 in campaign funds and was employing six paid staffers.

Brown has tried to make Whitman’s spending a top issue, while the Whitman camp counters that it’s going up against not just Brown but his union allies, who are already running TV ads criticizing the Republican. Whitman also spent money fighting a competitive primary, while Brown faced no major opposition in the June 8 primary.

What’s clear is the two candidates are setting new standards both in campaign extravagance and frugality, political observers said.

“She’s got more in Chinese on her website than he has in English,” said Joe Mathews, a fellow at the New America Foundation. “The consultants on the Whitman side are not just fighting for their candidate but for their relevancy.”

Brown’s “less is more” philosophy has worried some Democrats who fear he’ll be swept away by the sheer amount of money and marketing coming out of Whitman, said Democratic strategist Bill Carrick, who’s known Brown for nearly 30 years.

Whitman flexed her financial muscle last week by debuting her first TV attack ad against Brown – a full-minute, lavishly produced spot that contends that Brown has been a failure in politics. Brown’s campaign has not run any ads, although his union supporters have.

“The combination of the enormous amount of money that Whitman’s spending, the ongoing sense that this is going to be a very tough year for Democrats all over the country and that Jerry’s campaign in many ways is a much smaller effort than Whitman’s and he has to depend on the kindness of others to go out and spend money independently … all that bothers people,” Carrick said.

The contrast is clear at the two campaign headquarters located far apart in the Bay Area.

Whitman’s team occupies part of a nondescript office park about a block away from the Cupertino headquarters of tech giant Apple Computer and several miles from the San Jose home base of eBay, the online auction firm where the candidate spent a decade as CEO.

On a recent afternoon, several dozen staff members were raising funds, monitoring media coverage of the race and doing other work in cubicles and side offices while the digital media firm Tokoni crafted the campaign’s online content from another part of the office park.

Whitman has opened field offices in Costa Mesa, San Diego and Woodland Hills, and paid six-figure salaries to top GOP consultants in Sacramento and Southern California. The campaign had spent $3.58 million on campaign worker salaries as of May 22 and $8.43 million on consultants. It’s run TV and radio ads since September and is experimenting with cutting-edge technology to reach voters.

“We’ve been innovative in the way we communicate, and that’s a product of the campaign trying to be as effective as possible in building support for what we see as a movement type of candidate,” said campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds.

“The fact is Meg has been operating inside of a budget that is designed and calibrated to achieve a goal.”

The Brown campaign, by contrast, seems to go out of its way to violate the norms of modern political campaigns.

The team works out of a brick former warehouse near Oakland’s Jack London Square, set amid grocery wholesalers, condos and lofts. Last Wednesday, eight young volunteers sat at a long, wooden table at the front of the 5,000 square-foot space typing on laptops they’d brought from home.

Other staff members, just a few of them paid, worked at improvised desks scattered amid books, old photos and other Brown knickknacks. Campaign manager Steve Glazer pecked away on his laptop at a plastic-and-metal folding table set up in a dark corner of the office.

Brown’s voice boomed from a loft built in the middle of the space, where a strategy meeting was under way.

“We’re a very lean and efficient operation both in what we do and how we recruit people to work at a very low and sometimes no pay,” Glazer said. “All those things have been reflections of Jerry through the years in how he’s conducted himself in government and outside of government.”

Brown, who is the state attorney general, had spent $55,700 on campaign consultants and $36,416 on campaign worker salaries as of May 22. He had more than $20 million in cash on hand and hasn’t opened any field offices.

Bounds pointed out that union-funded independent expenditure committees have been attacking Whitman on Brown’s behalf although the Democrat is legally prohibited from coordinating with them. This past week, the Whitman team ramped up its campaign against the California Nurses Association, which has staged numerous protests at Whitman events.

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