Whether Meg Whitman tastes personal triumph or bitter defeat on Tuesday, her do-it-my-way campaign for governor will end with a bunch of winners: the scores of media, polling, online, policy and strategic consultants who backed up the truck and hauled off many, many millions of dollars of her money.
In a year when the Supreme Court threw off all restrictions on corporate and labor campaign spending, Karl Rove pioneered new methods for funneling secret funds into races across the country and more than half of the members of the U.S. Senate were millionaires, eMeg secured her own special place in political history by tossing at least $140 million of her own fortune into the pot – making her bid for governor a more expensive proposition than Al Gore’s effort to become president in 2000. As of this week, her burn rate was up to $1.4 million a day.
As sartorially splendiferous editorial cartoonist Tom Meyer bids farewell to the nouveaux riches Legions of eMeg today, it’s worth poring through the dusty volumes of ancient Calbuzz writings to excavate a piece from the earliest days of the site, when we examined the checkered history of self-funding candidates for top offices in California:
Pity the poor billionaire seeking high office in California : Not once in modern political history has a self-financed candidate captured a top-of-ticket party nomination and gone on to be elected governor or U.S. senator in the state.
This historic trend again marks California as a great exception, in contrast to states like New Jersey and Texas , where multimillionaires routinely prevail.
Good luck and Godspeed on Tuesday, Meg. Sorry we never got to have that dinner.
eMeg — The Person: Despite considerable sideline agitation by the esteemed Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, our staff psychiatrist, Calbuzz has refrained by and large from trying to explain Meg Whitman’s personality, or to examine her skills at mothering, or to look too deeply into her intellectual, emotional or spiritual motivations. Frankly, we don’t really know the woman. Our attempts to get up close and personal have been rebuffed, so we have — for the most part — not gone all psychological on eMeg (as we have on Jerry Brown, aka Krusty the General, aka Gandalf).
But while writers at Gawker have not been so restrained, neither are the folks over at the Bay Citizen, which posted a story on Friday titled, “At eBay, Whitman Was Known for Fierce Temper.” The story had the following subhead: “Former employees say her angry outbursts and imperious management style raise questions about how she’d govern.”
“She was very angry, irrational when under stress, very difficult to be around,” said a former eBay technology executive who was present at a meeting to discuss a June 1999 crisis in which the eBay computer system crashed and could not be reliably restored. This executive said that Whitman threw a phone or pager at a marketing representative from Veritas Software who had brought the unwelcome news that a Veritas engineer could not attend the meeting. One other employee present corroborated this employee’s account, and a third employee present corroborated that Whitman was irate and used profanity but was unable to see whether or not she threw something at the marketing representative.
About 20 people, including eBay staff and personnel from Oracle, Veritas and Sun Microsystems, were present. Whitman “just went ballistic,” the technology executive said. “She was in a rage, swearing. Really hard-core swearing. I don’t know how many times she said ‘fuck.’ Over and over and over. She laid into this poor woman. She just went on, wouldn’t let go. Everybody was in shock and astonished at what Meg was doing. You just don’t see this kind of thing in business meetings.”
So, maybe Nicky Diaz — the housekeeper she fired abruptly after nine years, after finding our she was an illegal immigrant — got off easy.
She actually said the words: After eMeg got some rough treatment at a stop at a Cuban bakery in Glendale Friday, she was asked about the recent spate of polls showing her significantly behind Jerry Brown. Whereupon she responded with the hoariest cliche in politics, always a clear signal that it’s wayyyy past time for the campaign to be over: