By Steve Harmon
Thursday, March 25th, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Mike Murphy, the chief strategist for Meg Whitman — yes, the same consultant who was listed under Bonaparte Films in Whitman’s spending report who’s been paid $495,582 since coming on board on Nov. 25 — says the media have it all wrong in our collective gasp over Whitman’s record $46 million spending spree.

His point is that for a state as large as California, the money Whitman has spent on advertising so far — about $28 million total — is not so far out of line when you index it by the number of registered voters.

Murphy pulled together an interesting chart showing that, for instance, Tom Daschle’s Senate campaign’s $20.3 million expenditure in 2004 in puny South Dakota was far in excess of what Whitman has spent, at $40 per registered voter. In contrast, Whitman has spent $2.72 per registered voter so far.

Others ahead of Whitman in per registered voter expenditures were John Thune ($30.59) in the same 2004 Senate race in South Dakota; Steve Poizner ($30.54) in his 2006 Assembly race; Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($24.34) in 2009; Al Franken ($8.89) in his Minnesota Senate race in 1008; and Senate Leader Harry Reid ($4.67) in 2004.

“While we are obviously a very well funded campaign, California is also a very big state and very expensive to campaign across,” Murphy wrote in an email. “For all the conventional wisdom about voters being bombed with ads at around $2 per voter, the average California voter has seen a pretty average number of ads for a political campaign so far.”

His point, he said, was that the contention that the large spending numbers have created “some massive onslaught on the voters … just isn’t true.”

At any rate, he said, “we make no apologies for spending enough to put our message out. Especially against incumbent office holders with taxpayer funded staff and power(ful) special interests on their side.”

That all may be true, but the simple fact is that we’re not even in April and Whitman has already shattered spending records for a gubernatorial race in California. And she doesn’t intend to slow down the cash flow.

A footnote on how Whitman listed Murphy in her spending reports. First, you had to put it together that Bonaparte Films was Murphy’s consulting firm. Fine.

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