Chris Kelly: Democrats' Own Wealthy California Candidate

Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger pummeled Democrat Phil Angelides in the 2006 California governor's race in large measure due to money. Schwarzenegger had lots of it. Angelides, ...
by | April 9, 2010

Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger pummeled Democrat Phil Angelides in the 2006 California governor's race in large measure due to money. Schwarzenegger had lots of it. Angelides, who lacked a personal fortune, didn't.

In this year's California gubernatorial race, Republican Meg Whitman has gone ahead because of money. She has tens of millions of dollars to spend, while Democrat Jerry Brown, who has spent most of his adult life in elected office, doesn't.

At some point, Democrats in California will realize that it helps if their candidates are spectacularly rich. That makes Chris Kelly an interesting person to watch. From the Sacramento Bee:

He takes credit for helping build a social-networking company from 2.5 million to 400 million users.

He argues voters this year will like his outsider profile as he seeks his party's nomination.

He has already put millions of his own money into the race and says he can afford to self-finance a general election campaign.

But Chris Kelly, who has left his job at Facebook to run for state attorney general, insists there are plenty of differences between him and GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman - another high-tech exec with plenty of money and little political experience.

Democrats have a very crowded field for attorney general in California this year. Still, if Kelly is going to have a lot more money to spend than everyone else (the other candidates are current officeholders -- I'm not sure if any of them have personal wealth), he'll have a good chance to win. He'd also have a good shot in the general election.

If Democrats lose another governor's race in California by being outspent, Kelly would be a logical person for the party to turn to in the future. Of course, a big question is just how rich he is.

Whitman and Steve Poizner, her fellow Republican candidate for governor, both were billionaires (or at least close) at one point. If Kelly only has, say, $50 million to his name, he may not be able to fun an effective gubernatorial race in the future.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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