Have you come across a California voter – a civilian, not
someone professionally involved in politics — who profoundly, deeply,
truly cares who wins the contest for governor?
The longer this lesser-of-two-evils campaign of meaningless
attacks and pointless policy proposals goes on, the more it seems that
the only people truly invested in this campaign are the political
consultants. Talk to one-they show more passion about the thing than
It’s not hard to see why. The outcome of this governor’s
race almost certainly won’t make much difference in California’s
direction. But the contest does pose a high-stakes test of the true
value of consultants.
Jerry Brown loathes the entire human sub-species of homo
consultantis, and has taken on only a few, whom he seems to delight in
The Whitman campaign, by comparison, is dominated by top
consultants of every stripe and expertise. It’s a consultant New York
Yankees. And therein lies the danger for the profession.
Every consultant who has ever lost a campaign has the same
explanations: we didn’t have enough money. And we didn’t have enough
control over message. But the Whitman campaign doesn’t permit those
excuses. The consultants have everything they say they need in terms of
financial resources and the opportunity to craft and get a message out.
So if Whitman loses, look out. It could be consultants’ Armageddon.
Other candidates might be tempted to pull a Brown and skip the big
Of course, that’s not how they’ll spin it.
The consultants will say that other consultants gave advice, or that
there were too many consultants, or that they don’t care about
candidates, that the higher-paying corporate work is better anyway.
And a few might be tempted to suggest that no amount of expert consultants can successfully sell a weak candidate.
Come to think of it: Meg, you might want to have the lawyers check the non-disclosure language in your consultants’ agreements.