Meg Whitman just brought her contribution to her own campaign to $104 million. Linda McMahon spent $25 million in the Connecticut primary, promising to spend up to $50 million. It makes Carly Fiorina look like a cheapskate. Is this equality?
Money has helped McMahon have a platform to turn crotch-kicking and glorified violence into "a soap opera." We'll see if it burnishes Fiorina's somewhat tarnished legacy at HP, or manages to get anyone remotely excited about anything Meg Whitman is up to.
It's not just women, of course — this season alone, in Florida, Rick Scott (a Republican) and Jeff Greene (a Democrat) have spent millions to beat establishment candidates; in Michigan, Republican Rick Snyder is shelling out for the gubernatorial race, and both parties' nominees for Senate in New Hampshire are rich men. If you've already run a company and corporate America has lost its lustre, why not pick up some political influence with those millions?
But it's still a novelty to have women in these ranks, given what a recent phenomenon women's self-made economic power is. (In what would be a more traditional entrance for women in politics — esteemed widow or consort — some Democrats are urging Victoria Kennedy, widow of Ted, to run against Scott Brown in 2012, though it's not clear if she's up for it.)
That also means that these women, all Republicans though relatively moderate, are subject to the same criticisms as their deep-pocketed male counterparts, in addition to the fun, just-for-women sort. Political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe told Newsweek of Whitman,
"People have tended to trust self-financed candidates, thinking they're not owned by anybody else but themselves, but I'm not at all certain that will hold in this economic environment, with Wall Street's problems and high unemployment. She's pledged to spend at least $150 million, and people are asking, ‘Why doesn't she just invest in the state?'"
Good question. As Eleanor Clift points out in the same story, "Self-financed corporate women candidates represent another crack in the glass ceiling, but one that's not entirely celebratory. When running for office becomes pay-to-play, that excludes more women than it lets in." Let it not be said that women can't be as privileged, exclusive, or as wasteful as men.
Linda McMahon And The Self-Funded Campaign [Newsweek]
Prominent Democrats Want Kennedy's Widow To Run For His Senate Seat [WP]
Whitman Writes Another Big Check To Her Campaign [LAT]
Related: Political Newcomers Are Spending Big [AP]
Earlier: The Year's 10 Lowest Moments For Women In Politics (So Far)
Carly Fiorina's "Mean Girl" Moment And Another "Year Of The Woman
Everything You Need To Know About Linda McMahon