FAT CAT CANDIDATES….Question: has a self-funded presidential candidate ever been successful? Mitt Romney? Nope. Steve Forbes? Nope. Ross Perot? Nope. Anyone? John Kerry loaned himself a few million dollars in 2003 and went on to win the Democratic nomination, but that’s the closest I can think of.
On the other hand, self-funded candidates have certainly won other offices. Michael Bloomberg in the New York City mayor’s race and Jon Corzine in the New Jersey governor’s race, for example. And they spent a ton of money: about $73 million for Bloomberg and $60 million for Corzine. Romney, conversely, spent only about $18 million of his $250 million fortune.
So maybe the problem with presidential self-funders isn’t that they’re rich, but that they’re too damn cheap. If Perot had spent, say, a billion dollars in 1992 instead of a paltry $60 million, could he have won? What if Romney had blown $100 million instead of $18 million? I guess we’ll never know.