Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner spent $17.3 million on his GOP gubernatorial campaign between March 18 and May 22, according to his most recent campaign finance filing, released Thursday.
Poizner has spent $20.5 million since Jan. 1, and $24.2 million overall. His opponent, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, has not yet filed her finance report, which is due at midnight. Her numbers are sure to dwarf Poizner’s. As of March 17, Whitman had already spent $46.7 million.
It seems Poizner’s $17 million was money well spent. Much of it funded an increasingly aggressive ad campaign highlighting Whitman’s ties to Goldman Sachs and her stance on immigration. According to a recent poll, Poizner has gained significantly on Whitman, who in March held a lead of more than 50 percentage points. That lead was reduced to just 9 points, according to a poll that the Public Policy Institute of California released on May 19.
Whitman, who has said she will spend $150 million of her own money to win, spent heavily on ads early on in the campaign. As of the March 17 filing, she had paid $24.3 million to a single ad-buying company. Poizner’s delayed push may have been a savvy campaign strategy, according to Republican political strategist Sal Russo.
“[Whitman] wisely went out and tried to define herself early on to get herself a big lead,” Russo said. “But as soon as you hear the other side of the story, that lead’s going to take a hit.”
Poizner raised $5.2 million in contributions during the filing period, and has $2.9 million in the bank, according to the report.