eMeg’s Wish List: What $40 Million Could Buy
As the entire political world holds its collective breath awaiting Meg Whitman’s decision about how much fresh cash to toss into her campaign, the Calbuzz Department of Economic Research and Widespread Google Investigations has launched a major probe to answer a key question: What could she have bought with the $40 Large she’s already spent running for governor?
Let’s be clear: this isn’t one of those touchy-feely, bleeding heart columns about how eMeg could have paid for medical and dental care for 200,000 poor kids in the Healthy Families Program, or saved SSI/SSP grants for 90,000 low-income seniors and disabled people, or back-filled the entire cut in state funds for school districts in San Joaquin County.
No, what we’re after is the kind of high-end loot, luxe and lucre that a person of refined tastes like Her Royal Megness might quite naturally be more financially focused on. So before Mrs. Margaret Cushing Whitman makes what she likes to call another “incremental investment” in her campaign, here’s a look at the Top 10 Toys and Other Cool Stuff she’ll miss out on if she doubles down on the $39 million in mad money she’s spent already:
1-Madonna’s apartment – For the cost of just a couple months of advertising, eMeg could set herself up in Madge’s four-story, 26-room, 12,000 square foot Upper East Side townhouse, complete with 9 fireplaces, 13 bedrooms and servants quarters. Talk about your governor’s mansion!
2-Naming rights for an NBA arena. While Amway is getting its name plastered on the new home court of the Orlando Magic, Whitman could get a head start in buying good will in Sacramento by building a swell new home for the Kings in rockin’ Meg Arena.
3-Conan O’Brien’s silence. NBC paid the former late night failure talk show host $40 million to shut up, get off TV and go away, which Calbuzz would view as a real bargain if eMeg did the same.
4-A Cape Cod wastewater treatment plant. The plucky citizens of Chatham, Mass. are cheering the fed’s award of $40 million in grants and loans to upgrade the local sewage plant so it can prevent algae-generated nitrogen from killing all the eelgrass. Take that, AB32!
5-An end to Paula Deen’s dick jokes. The Food Network celebrity chef diva is being sued for $40 million by the Celebrity Chefs Tour for doing too much cussing and not enough cooking – not to mention offering quips about the male member,. This is a formula that might be just the ticket for Governor eMeg’s team building sessions with the Legislature.
6-1.5 million copies of Steve Poizner’s book. Now that her GOP opponent has soared on Amazon’s best-seller’s list, while skillfully managing to totally piss off the students at the high school where he once taught, Whitman may be politically better off foregoing future promotions of her own dozy volume in favor of pushing the authorial offerings of The Commish.
7-Her very own volcano. A couple hundred fewer points assailing Poizner with her negative ads would allow Her Megness to match the Department of Energy’s largesse in financing a batch of geothermal power projects tapping into the super-heated water that lies below the Newberry volcanic cone south of Bend, Oregon.
8-A long-lost Rembrandt painting. “Portrait of a man, half-length with his arms akimbo” has been kept out of sight since 1968, when Mark Rudd and other Columbia protesters endangered it during an occupation of the administration building, where it then hung. Mrs. Griffith Rutherford Harsh IV could have snatched it up at auction for the price of one of her “incremental investments” in buying financing the governor’s race.
9-A Hindu temple. OK, so the Turkish limestone and Italian marble Swaminarayan Mandir temple is in Canada, fercrineoutloud, but it would make a swell place to exile Jerry Brown off to, should she succeed in burying him beneath several hundred million of her billion dollars.
10-Fire Island’s “Gay Paradise.” If she cut back on her annoying TV spots, eMeg could have outbid investors in buying Fire Island Pines, which its buyers call “the most beloved gay community in the world” – and had plenty of change left over to pick up 13 private islands near Belize (4), Panama (2), Brazil (2), the Phillipines (2) and one (1) each in Nicaragua, Chile and Bora Bora to send her fat and happy, overpaid campaign staff for some R&R.
Why eMeg would prefer to be governor rather than grab any of these things is a question that’s beyond our pay grade ($0). But we’re glad she does, since otherwise we wouldn’t have anything to write about on a slow news day.
O.K! O.K! You’re funny but your light smile hits and misses don’t elect Her Megness (love your title) to the governorship. So, really, all you have left are the sometimes smiles…and they are light and fleeting.
What I am really waiting for is your tragicomedy on my guy, that is Steve’s, expected spectacular failure or the unexpected victory. That’s going to be something special!!!
During the 1994 campaign, I toiled away on behalf of Kathleen Brown. After the election, many of us spent time wondering about all we could have done with the money spent by Brown, the State Party, and various independent groups.
Realizing earlier than election day that much of the campaign spending wasn’t actually going to help us win votes, several of us came up with a new idea for retail politics. We based it on the premise that after spending tens of millions, voters didn’t much like her or Wilson anyway, and that in media-age California we could create a return to retail politics.
Our operating slogan? “Buy California A Drink” Needless to say, it didn’t catch on.
Imagine it… No signs, no stickers, no attack ads. Instead, in a modern variant of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Brown and Wilson would simply meet up in bars around the state, buy the crowd a round, debate or throw stones, and actually meet the voters. And if they couldn’t meet everyone, they could mail them a voucher to use at their local pub. Now THAT’S change I can believe in.
I’ve done the math, and eMeg is on track. In the primary, based on the Secretary of State’s website, she’s chasing 1,916,080 voters. $40 million translates into nearly $21 a voter. Forget attack ads or those 200,000 Healthy Family kids that the Calbuzz editors keep harping on!
At $42 for a dual-voting household, she can sponsor date night for the Republican base.
For the general, assuming she spends $50 million, and the number of voters in the gov’s race is equal to last time (8,679,416 per the Secretary of State’s web site), eMeg has around $5.76 a voter (more than enough for a happy hour beer even in LA or SF). If you figure she only needs 50% of them, you’re looking at something well beyond a cocktail per voter.
Focusing on just the 20% swing voters gives you a mere 1,735,883 people to worry about. At $50 million, that’s almost $29 a person. Enough for a decent meal at a sit-down restaurant.
Of course, this wouldn’t enrich eMeg’s consultants or allow for them to spend $1,900 in West Hollywood establishments frequented by Bruce Herschenson, but, hey, if you’re gonna buy an election you might as well give the people something they can actually use and help local economies around the state by creating jobs in the service sector.
A chicken in every pot. A beer in every belly. Trust me, Al Checchi and Dick Riordan probably wish they had thought of it.
Hey, Commissioner, it ain’t too late! Imagine the ad… “Hello, I’m Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, and I’d like to buy you a drink.”
Sure looks like she has bought George Skelton or maybe his daughter Karen.
But they must go cheap…i think Meg has at least $39,990,000 to spend now…or maybe she bought Sam Zell for a couple of million.
Do you think?
Since she’s running unopposed her chances are starting to look pretty good for her.