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Rich candidates fare poorly, get a lesson in humility

Wealthy candidates spent more than $500 million of their own money running for office this year, but don’t have much to show for it.

Wealthy candidates spent more than $500 million of their own money running for office this year, but don’t have much to show for it.

Former HP chair Carly Fiorina, former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman and World Wrestling Entertainment co-founder Linda McMahon were among the losers in U.S. elections yesterday.

Of the 58 self-funded candidates for federal offices this year — those giving at least $500,000 to their campaigns — 30 lost in primaries or dropped out before Election Day, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

This year’s losers join Ross Perot, Steve Forbes and William Randolph Hearst in the ranks of the rich who fumbled bids for president, governor or Congress. Only five of the 20 largest self-funded candidates in federal races over the past two decades won, reported the center.

“If you raise $100,000 in $100 increments, you have 1,000 votes,” said Jennifer Steen, an Arizona State University political scientist and the author of a book on self-financed candidates. “If you write yourself a $100,000 check, you only have one vote.”

In some cases, a candidate’s business experience became an adversary’s weapon. Barbara Boxer ran an ad featuring former HP employees who lost their jobs during Fiorina’s tenure.

 
 
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