California's gubernatorial primary is still 10 months away, but the multimillion-dollar race for campaign cash has already picked up a quick pace, with former eBay CEO Meg Whitman at the front of the pack.
It's no surprise that the billionaire Internet exec, who has never held elected office, has lots of money in the bank to spend on her campaign. According to a tally Saturday, she has some $19 million in cash available--and that's after spending $6.1 million to get her campaign operations up and running. It's also after she contributed first $4 million, then $15 million of her own money to the race.
But for the first half of the year, Whitman, a GOP candidate, also raised $6.7 million in individual campaign contributions, according to press accounts on campaign finance reports posted Friday. Coming in second for individual contributions was Democratic rival Attorney General Jerry Brown, who reportedly raised $3.4 million in individual contributions during the same period.
According to Whitman's campaign, her recent $15 million contribution to the campaign was part of a 3-to-1 match on the first $5 million donated by supporters. Of the $6.7 million she received from individuals, some noteworthy donations include, according to the San Jose Mercury News, $52,000 from Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy and his wife, and $26,000 from former Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang (who also, incidentally, donated the same amount to Democratic candidate and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom).
Whitman's numbers far outpace those of another Silicon Valley exec in the GOP gubernatorial race, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. Poizner reportedly raised $900,000 in private contributions during the filing period and, after contributing some $3.5 million of his on money to the campaign, has about $3.7 million in cash on hand.
GOP congressman and gubernatorial candidate Tom Campbell reportedly raised $305,017 in individual contributions during the first half of the year. Newsom raised $1.6 million.
Of course, having a hefty campaign war chest is important in a state as big and expensive as California, a state facing an unprecedented budget crisis and for which Moody's just gave the country's lowest general obligation debt rating.