Sunday, June 04, 2006

'Money well Spent'

That's what Phil Angelides and Steve Westly are reportedly saying about the millions of dollars in advertising--most of it negative in recent weeks--and campaign costs for their Gubernatorial runs. I don't recall exactly when this turned, but in recent weeks it's become a rather messy little catfight.

Angelides has used negative ads, in part at least, to eliminate Westly's lead in the polls that was built up over the last few months with crafted messages like this. Westly of course has responded in-kind and both point to the other as the man who started the name-calling nastiness.

Meanwhile, as this little tidbit points out, people still don't know what to think:

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Steve Westly and Phil Angelides have spent a combined $56.9 million this year telling Californians why they should be governor.

But plenty of voters are still left scratching their heads.

A Public Policy Institute of California poll released Thursday showed one in three likely Democratic voters remains undecided, while Angelides holds a marginal three-point lead as the June 6 primary draws near.The campaigns suggest their candidates started with low name recognition and face a changing media environment and voter fatigue in a fifth straight election year.

"Well, it's a big state," state Treasurer Angelides said Friday. "And I've always said, when I got into this race, (Gov.) Arnold Schwarzenegger was known by 100 percent of the people ... and I wasn't known by the people of this state. But I guarantee you, over the next 11 days, voters are going to get to know who I am."

Pollsters and analysts believe a more fundamental problem may exist: The two candidates are too similar ideologically and made weak early impressions before sinking into a nightly feud of negative ads that confused the electorate.

I have no horse in this race so I comment as an outsider; one who is just a curious political observer. I wonder though if either of these two gentlemen might not be wise come November to take home the lesson of the 1998 Gubernatorial campaign. That year Republican Dan Lungren spent months campaigning on one premise alone: Gray Davis was a bad choice for Governor.

While I agreed with that premise, it was obvious to me why Dan lost in the general election that year by a wide margin. People need a reason to vote for you. It wasn't enough that Lungren wasn't Gray Davis and it won't be enough that Steve Westly isn't Phil Angelides or that Angelides is no Steve Westly.

When it comes time for one or the other to square off against the Governator, people will need a reason to vote for them aside from whatever it is they might not like about Arnold.

As an observer of this all, I'm beginning to feel like some of these folks.

Meanwhile, for any of the folks still unsure about who is who as we head into Tuesday's primary, the Easy Voter guide offers profiles of every candidate in every state-wide race.

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