Another wealthy candidate has failed to gain political office in California and you have to wonder what Meg Whitman will do now when it comes to politics and public affairs. Will she pull an Al Checchi, one time Democratic candidate for governor, and chalk up her run for the state’s top spot as an interesting experience and move on, making an occasional newsworthy comment now and again, or will she stay in the political game one-way or another?
I don’t know Meg Whitman well and don’t presume to know what she is thinking about her future in politics, but given who she is and what she recently endured during the campaign, there are certainly many ways she could stay involved in California politics if she so chooses.
If Whitman is considering a future run for office she might establish a record of working on public issues and coming up with solutions for California’s many problems. This suggests perhaps funding a think tank or financially supporting on-going efforts on reform, such as those being conducted by California Forward or the newly announced Think Long Committee funded by fellow billionaire Nicolas Berggruen.
She could pump resources into efforts to build her battered California Republican Party, which not only took it on the chin in the recent election, but has dropped to a dismal voter registration of just 31-percent.
Then there is the direct route to reform – the initiative process. Whitman’s money cannot guarantee success with initiatives, as it could not guarantee her election as governor, however, she could certainly qualify measures for the ballot.
Given Whitman’s treatment at the hands of the public employee unions this recent campaign, it would hardly be surprising if she might consider funding initiative reforms that deal with the power of the unions or their effect on California’s budget.
Pension reform is high on the list of many who study California’s deficit problems. Whitman, who had plans to deal with that issue if elected, can take it on directly by funding a pension reform initiative.
Another measure that has been tried and come close to passing a couple of times is known as “paycheck protection.” Public unions fuel their campaign kitties with mandatory garnishes from their members’ paychecks. Thanks to this formula, public unions have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in political campaigns the last few years.
Paycheck protection proposals would require the union members to approve taking money from their paychecks for political purposes.
Supporters of paycheck protection reform argue that many public employee union members do not support the direction union leaders take their unions during campaigns, and these members would prefer to keep that portion of the paycheck instead of turning it over to the union for campaign purposes.
Whitman probably would not have faced the onslaught of union attack ads to the degree she did if a paycheck protection law was in place.
Might the defeated candidate fund an initiative campaign to respond to her treatment by the public unions over the past few months?
It is one of the possibilities.