Whitman shares yet another commonality with Checchi – a spotty voting record. Voters in polls and focus groups were flabbergasted to learn that the guy who wanted to be elected governor in 1998 hadn’t even gotten off his duff to vote in either the primary or general election the last time California elected a governor in 1994. This was an immediate disqualification for many primary voters (Checchi finished with only 12.5 percent of the vote, despite spending a then-record $40 million on his primary campaign).
Whitman didn’t bother to vote in four statewide elections since just 2003 – including the ‘03 recall election that put Gov. Schwarzenegger in office. À la Checchi, she hasn’t been able to verify whether she voted in the 1994 gubernatorial election, when the controversial anti-immigrant Prop. 187 was on the ballot. She has apologized for these lapses, saying she was busy running a company and had two kids. (Average voters with kids use that as an excuse for skipping the polling place?)
In addition, Whitman was registered decline-to-state until the fall of 2007. How will that sit with die-hard Republican primary voters? We also made great use with Democrats in the ‘98 primary of Al Checchi’s political contributions to Republican U.S. Senate and presidential candidates. Likewise, Whitman has made contributions to Democratic candidates – including to Westly in the last governor’s race, and even to liberal Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. How will that fly with purist GOP primary voters?