GOP gov. primary could top $100M

The Republican gubernatorial primary in California could cost more than $100 million as the two wealthy front-runners continue to spend their own fortunes attacking each other.

Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner released his latest salvo earlier this week, using a Web video to argue that former eBay CEO Meg Whitman created a “special site for the sale of pornography and sex paraphernalia.”

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“Meg Whitman oversaw the creation of a special website just to sell pornography and amassed millions in profits from it,” Poizner spokeswoman Bettina Inclan said in a statement. “If Californians wanted a governor who made a fortune off pornography, then Larry Flynt would now be in office.”

The Whitman camp noted that Poizner’s outlandish attack was released shortly after former Vice President Dick Cheney endorsed Whitman in an op-ed in the Orange County Register.

“Is Steve Poizner seriously trying to tell us that eBay is a pornography site?” Whitman spokesman Dan Comstock said in a statement. “eBay’s millions of users, including my grandmother, will find that a little hard to believe. Steve Poizner is desperate. He lacks momentum. He lacks grassroots support. Most of all, he lacks honesty.”

Whitman once had a commanding lead in this race, but polls have showing it tightening in recent weeks as Poizner attacked her in a TV ad that said she profited from home foreclosures in California. But the Whitman camp says it’s now beginning to put distance between them again.

Still, that hasn’t stopped Whitman from pumping another $4 million from her own fortune into her campaign. Ahead of the June 8 primary, Whitman has spent a total of $68 million on her bid, while Poizner has cut checks for $24 million.

—S.J.M.


Rep. Boehner: GOP needs more money, organization before November elections

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said his party needs to raise more money and get organized before the November election.

The GOP suffered a setback Tuesday night when its candidate lost the special election for former Rep. John Murtha’s (D-Pa.) seat. The party had invested heavily in the race and billed it as a referendum on national Democrats. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) spent close to $1 million supporting businessman Tim Burns’ (R) campaign.

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Boehner told reporters Wednesday that “it’s pretty clear that we have to organize, and we’ve got to continue working on our agenda project. … We’ve got to continue to raise resources.”

The top-ranking House Republican explained that Burns was at a disadvantage because the “fact is that this is a Democratic district and [there were] two big statewide Dem primaries.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) carried the district by one point in 2008. Murtha had held it for 19 terms.

But Boehner praised Burns, who will be the Republican candidate for the seat in the November general election.

“I’ve got to give him a lot of credit, he ran a very good campaign. I think Tim Burns is our candidate for November and I feel very good,” Boehner said.

It was the seventh special election Republicans have lost since President Barack Obama took office. Republicans had tried to make the race about Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who are unpopular in the district. But Democrat Mark Critz, a former Murtha staffer, prevailed with comfortable margins.

Boehner explained that his party has had a tough time winning these special elections given “the financial disadvantage we have now,” noting that “we’ve got to do better.”

The NRCC has struggled with fundraising this cycle, and the Republican National Committee has promised to add its resources to help the party win back control of Congress.

GOP leaders have predicted their party will win back control of the House in November. Boehner has said that at least 100 seats are “competitive.” Republicans would need to win 40 seats to win the majority.

— Molly K. Hooper

Miller is a campaign reporter for The Hill.  He can be found on The Hill’s Ballot Box, located at thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box.