California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has $22 million for his reelection campaign, but he doesn’t seem interested in spending it.
Brown, who leads his Republican opponent Neel Kashkari by 21 points in the latest poll, hasn’t appeared in any television, radio or Internet ads yet. He agreed to participate in one and only one debate that just so happened to fall in the middle of the U.S. Open and the NFL season opener, and at events, he doesn’t even mention his reelection.
It’s a “non-campaign” campaign, the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out.
“Jerry Brown himself is a brand, and his brand is insulated against Obama and insulated against the Legislature,” University of San Francisco Professor Corey Cook told the Chronicle. “Jerry is operating as if he’s at the start of his next term, not as if he’s seeking reelection.”
But what if he did start operating as if he’s running for reelection?
Brown’s war chest is enough to get him airtime across the state comfortably through to November. Dan Newman, a Brown spokesman, said “very roughly,” $2.5 million can buy you “a decent week” statewide.
Sheri Sadler, founder of Sadler Strategic Media, specializes in political strategy and advertising and said that if he wanted to, Brown would be able to air ads consistently in the state’s larger markets until the election, throw in some Internet, radio and Spanish-language ads, and begin television ads in smaller markets three weeks before voters head to polling places.
“With this budget, I can do it. I can absolutely do it,” she told The Washington Post.
California has 12 media markets. Smaller ones like Palm Springs, Chico and Eureka can start getting ads just a few weeks before because they don’t require as much consistency, Sadler said. In the four largest — Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento — candidates have to start a lot earlier and air regularly to reach an audience that has a larger number of channel options, particularly Los Angeles.
“Los Angeles, heck you can clean up in L.A.,” Sadler said. “They have so many stations and they’re a little more hungry than the rest of the state.”
In 2010, when Brown defeated former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, the campaign cost a staggering $250 million, including $140 million of Whitman’s own money. For a state like California, the appetite for campaigns can be endless.
“I can spend $22 million in a heartbeat,” Sadler said.