I’ve written recently about wealthy individuals running for office. The voters had their say on two of the fabulously rich candidates yesterday. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent more than $100 million of his fortune and eked out an unexpectedly narrow win over his Democratic challenger. In New Jersey, where Governor Jon Corzine spent a measly $30 million on his re-election bid, voters turned thumbs down and he lost to the Republican candidate.
So, personal riches don’t guarantee success; indeed, there is every indication that some New York City voters rejected Bloomberg precisely because he spent such ridiculous sums of money on his campaign. And, in a time of economic hardship when we are looking for every bit of “stimulus spending” we can find, shelling out $130 million on two election campaigns ain’t chicken feed. Bloomberg’s and Corzine’s millions were injected into the struggling economy and no doubt helped “save” the jobs of printers, robo-call recorders, TV commercial writers, caterers, and other workers who performed campaign-related services. Maybe the way out of the current recession is to force big-money Americans — say, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffett, for starters — to run for office and spend their own fortunes as part of the process.