$119 Million and Counting for Whitman

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Late on Tuesday, the campaigns of the two major candidates for governor sent in campaign contribution notices (as required by law) to the Secretary of State's office. Jerry Brown reported new contributions totaling $305,810; Meg Whitman reported contributions of $15,494,399.

Whitman's gargantuan daily tally was thanks to one donor in particular: the candidate herself, who's now spent a record-breaking $119 million of her own money to become California's next governor.

The billionaire former CEO-turned-Republican-politician has never said exactly how much she's willing to spend on the gubernatorial contest; given the campaign operation she's set up and the cost of each week of statewide TV commercial saturation (now somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million) it's doubtful we've seen the end of dipping into the Whitman personal fortune. The latest contribution (apparently made on Monday but reported a day later) comes on the heels of another big chunk of cash on August 13, thus raising her total in just the last month alone to $28 million.

As we said at the time, the national record was apparently set by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his 2009 re-election contest. Emphasis on the word was, as Bloomberg's $108 million is no longer king; make way for the queen.

For some California context, check out a blog posting I wrote back in February 2009 which reported on a new study of the state's ten biggest political spenders of the past decade. Not only has Whitman now spent more than double the previous big spender, Steve Bing, she's now spent more than all but the top three on that list combined.

It's also worth noting something that won't get much attention today with that eye-popping number out there: Whitman's traditional fundraising is besting Brown's most every day. That also places pressure on the Democratic nominee, who's -- at best -- locked in a tight race with his challenger as the election looms now less than seven weeks away.

"We get a little stressed," Brown said in an interview on Los Angeles' KTLA last month when asked about the Whitman Money Machine. It's hard to see that stress going away anytime soon.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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