THE 30 SECOND CANDIDATE HISTORICAL TIMELINEFROM IDEA TO ADTRICKS OF THE TRADEQ_AND_ATHE TELEVISION PROGRAM
Wisconsin Public Television
     

         
1998  
   
   

In the California Democratic primary race for Governor, wealthy candidates Al Checchi and Jane Harman spent unprecedented sums on television advertising.

When Checchi and Harman attacked each other in ads, voters turned to the third candidate, Lt. Governor Gray Davis.

Also in California, candidates Lois Capps and Tom Bordanaro competed in a special election for a House seat from the Santa Barbara area. The candidates' ads competed for attention with ads produced by outside interest groups. Pro-life, pro-choice, and congressional term limits supporters all used advertising to get their issues before the voters and influence the election.

   
       
   


READ THE EXPERTS' ANALYSIS OF WHAT HAPPENED IN CALIFORNIA

Alex Castellanos
Jeff Greenfield
Kathleen Hall Jamieson
Bob Squier

 

   
   
GREENFIELD: Well, the issue of a candidate's money is a really complicated one. I think you can set a general rule down, that is, the expenditure of large sums of your own money rarely hurts. It has to be linked to something else. For instance, Michael Huffington's case, it was linked to the absolute lack of credentials. He just seemed to be a real lightweight who was just going to spend his way into, into office--and almost succeeded.

I think in Checchi's case, it was the sudden negative turn of his campaign when he began to lose. Checchi was the frontrunner having spent a lot of money. Then, another wealthy candidate entered the race, Jane Harman and promptly surged to the lead and he immediately began to attack her.

I think at that point the public made two judgments: "Okay, maybe Jane Harman isn't the one we want, but here's a guy with unlimited resources who seems to be spending it attacking someone else."

Much the same thing happened to Steve Forbes back in '96 when his campaign commercials hurt Bob Dole and then wound up hurting himself because people said, "Now that you have all this money, what are you telling us?"

 

   

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