The victory of Prop 14 worked thematically with the GOP primary wins for the two Betsy Rich twins of the party, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman. And the theme is this: Money talks. Money buys and now Money rules completely the State of California.
Both Fiorina and Whitman essentially used the gold-plated steamroller to overcome their primary opposition. Fiorina spent so much for her U.S Senate race that runner-up former U.S. House Member Tom Campbell pulled his TV ads and basically cried uncle. When Whitman was threatened in the polls in her race for governor against state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, she just spent more, and more and more and more until the seat was her’s by title. In one of the most expensive primary races even in U.S. history, Whitman spent $81 million, some $500,000 per day in her campaign. And all that money wasn’t all just for buttons and yard signs. She chartered her own jets, she spent freely on Washington consultants (no doubt happy she decided to run) — like Mike Murphy at $90,000 a month according to the Boston Globe — and also on a “crew of videographers and the former White House photographer to chronicle her stops” along with “an entire TV feed at the host hotel during the state convention.”
Fiorina and Whitman are the kind of candidates we’ll be seeing a lot more of in California in the future after Prop 14 passed 54-46. They’re essentially the same as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, bored rich people with money to burn. And now that they don’t have to run in a closed party primary, they don’t have to waste time trying to get the endorsements of groups like the California Republican Assembly or labor unions for that matter, in order to win. Just more and more TV ads, enough to make for a mini-series worth of programming. The old days when Orange County conservatives had great sway in the state party are long since gone now, candidates like State Sen. Chuck DeVore finished third in the Senate primary despite being a Tea Party favorite. The parties now become virtually meaningless when everyone runs against everyone in a “blanket primary” and all that’s needed is big bank account.
It was Californian, former State Treasurer Jesse Unruh, who once said “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” The reason being, of course, that in California money buys media. In state that’s too large and has too many markets and whose voters are too diverse and too mobile for kind of citizens politics of the upper Midwest or retail politics of small state or even the machine vote structures of a big Eastern or Midwest city, if one doesn’t not have money, one cannot compete. The DeVores and Campbells of the state, the veteran and established pols will be replaced by the Whitmans, Fiorinas, Schwarzeneggers and Al Checchi’s of the world that have the cash to create an image for themselves to run on. Never mind what their ideas are or what they say on the campaign trail or how they plan to govern. None of that will matter in the onslaught of 30 second ads. It certainly didn’t this time around.