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State's candidates top list of defeated big spenders

Photo by Mark Altamero

You've heard this before, but just in case the point didn't register, the National Institute for Money in State Politics last week decided to beat you over the head with it one more time: Self-funded political candidates almost always lose.

Despite spending more than a quarter-billion dollars combined (more than half from our very own Meg Whitman), only three of the top 10 primarily self-funded candidates for state office nationwide actually won election, according to a study released last week by the institute.

The lucky winners were incoming governors Rick Scott, of Florida, and Rick Snyder, of Michigan. Of the 10 biggest self-funders, eight didn't even make it past the primary.

California is home to three of biggest spenders: Whitman, obviously; Steve Poizner, who Whitman decisively defeated in a contentious gubernatorial primary; and Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Kelly. Poizner's $24 million places him third on the list, behind Whitman and Scott. Kelly, who spent $12 million, was fourth.

With more than $178 million spent among them, California's self-funded candidates account for nearly 70 percent of the spending among the top 10 candidates nationwide. And that's not even counting Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who spent more than $5.5 million of her own money only to lose to incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer.

As for the winners, Scott's race in Florida was notably close. Scott's personal fortune accounted for 90 percent of the money raised in his campaign. Snyder's Michigan contest was more lopsided, but his self-financing accounted for just over half of his fundraising: The lowest proportion among the top 10 self-funders.

 

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