(cross posted at Fox & Hounds Daily)
Have you come across a California voter - a civilian, not someone professionally involved in politics -- who profoundly, deeply, truly cares who wins the contest for governor?
The longer this lesser-of-two-evils campaign of meaningless attacks and pointless policy proposals goes on, the more it seems that the only people truly invested in this campaign are the political consultants. Talk to one-they show more passion about the thing than anybody else.
It's not hard to see why. The outcome of this governor's race almost certainly won't make much difference in California's direction. But the contest does pose a high-stakes test of the true value of consultants.
Jerry Brown loathes the entire human sub-species of homo consultantis, and has taken on only a few, whom he seems to delight in not paying.
The Whitman campaign, by comparison, is dominated by top consultants of every stripe and expertise. It's a consultant New York Yankees. And therein lies the danger for the profession.
Every consultant who has ever lost a campaign has the same explanations: we didn't have enough money. And we didn't have enough control over message. But the Whitman campaign doesn't permit those excuses. The consultants have everything they say they need in terms of financial resources and the opportunity to craft and get a message out.
So if Whitman loses, look out. It could be consultants' Armageddon. Other candidates might be tempted to pull a Brown and skip the big consultant payments.
Of course, that's not how they'll spin it.
The consultants will say that other consultants gave advice, or that there were too many consultants, or that they don't care about candidates, that the higher-paying corporate work is better anyway.
And a few might be tempted to suggest that no amount of expert consultants can successfully sell a weak candidate.
Come to think of it: Meg, you might want to have the lawyers check the non-disclosure language in your consultants' agreements.