To spend any time at all in California these days is to feel the gale force of Meg Whitman’s money.
Sure, California has seen its share of wealthy novice politicians from the business world, most of whom have failed. But the billionaire former chief executive of eBay is waging a campaign for governor unlike any before, both in its resources and in a no-voter-left-behind strategy that no Republican here has ever tried.
Like earlier big-money candidates in this vast state, Whitman has carpet-bombed the airwaves. Lately, she has been running more than 1,300 television spots a day, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political advertising.
It is the most expensive campaign ever for a nonpresidential election. Whitman has poured $139 million of her personal fortune into the race, outspending her Democratic opponent, Jerry Brown, by better than 10 to 1.
What could get Whitman over the goal line in a close game, however, are some of her quieter moves.
She has set up nearly 90 campaign offices, not only in GOP strongholds such as Shasta County but also in such Democratic bastions as liberal Oakland and Latino East Los Angeles. Her multilingual phone banks have reached households that speak Russian, Farsi and Korean; her ads in Spanish blanket billboards and bus stops; she is running TV spots in Mandarin and Cantonese.