Monday, July 26, 2010

Dem strategist to Moonbeam: "Your $30 million war chest isn't enough to beat Whitman"

Veteran Dem strategist Clint Reilly sat next to Jerry Brown at a Gay Pride breakfast and delivered some sobering news to Moonbeam - without a massive infusion of cash from labor before November, his campaign is doomed.

Here’s what I told him: His $30 million war chest isn’t enough to beat a billionaire who will spend more than $100 million.

The real choice is not whether to spend his limited funds now or later, it is to convince his allies in labor to power a substantial independent expenditure campaign during the summer that keeps him in the game; the total Democratic campaign must be roughly equal in dollars to Whitman’s in order for the attorney general to prevail.

But Brown faces two stumbling blocks: First, public employee unions are an easy target in an era when budget deficits in Sacramento are a major issue in the November election. Second, Whitman’s money might have boomeranged like Al Checchi and other previous, wealthy self-funded candidates. But recently, voters seem to be accepting her huge personal spending as just another form of legitimate funding.

The lesson of Kathleen Brown’s 1994 failed campaign and Phil Angelides’ 2006 debacle is the simple rule followed by generals in battles through the ages: the side with superior resources usually wins.

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