Meg Whitman, Republican candidate for California governor, has already contributed $59 million to her campaign. The former CEO and chairman of eBay burned through $46 million in the lead up to June's Republican primary, and that's just through mid-March. The California governors' race is expected to be the most expensive in the state's history.
Steve Poizner, Whitman's main opponent in the California Republican primary for governor, is also using his own money in the campaign. Poizner, a former businessman and currently the state's insurance commissioner, has given his campaign $19 million from his personal fortune, though he has only spent $3 million as of mid-March.
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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is the 23rd richest person in the world according to Forbes magazine, has spent $266 million on his three campaigns for mayor. In 2009, the Republican-turned-independent ran the most expensive self-financed campaign in U.S. history, spending $108 million of his own funds. As for his prior mayoral bids, he spent $73 million in 2001 and $85 million in his 2005.
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Mitt Romney made his fortune, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions, at Bain Capital in the 1980s and '90s. In his successful 2002 bid to become Massachusetts' governor, Romney spent $6.3 million of his own money, breaking a state record at that time. Fast-forward to Romney's unsuccessful 2008 presidential run, where he spent $35 million from his own personal fortune in the Republican primaries. If Romney decides to run for president again in 2012, he is likely to dip into that fortune again.
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Jon Corzine, the former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, spent over $100 million collectively on his successful New Jersey campaigns for Senate in 2000 and then governor in 2005. During his 2000 Senate bid, Corzine ran the most expensive Senate race in the country's history, spending $63 million of his personal wealth. (He spent $43 million of his own money in his 2005 gubernatorial run.) The Democrat also spent $28.5 million of his fortune on his losing 2009 bid for re-election.
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Hillary Clinton originally loaned herself about $13 million during her 2008 Democratic primary run against Barack Obama. Clinton left the race with a considerable amount of debt, and in December 2008 she wrote off the debt owed to herself -- essentially turning it into a campaign contribution.
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In 1992, billionaire Ross Perot was the most successful non-major party candidate in 80 years, amassing 19 percent of the popular vote. Perot, the founder of Electronic Data Systems, spent $63.5 million of his personal fortune on the campaign, some of which was spent on half-hour television spots he used to make his case directly to the American people.
Steve Forbes, CEO of Forbes, Inc. and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, spent a combined about 77 million on his failed 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns, both of which ended during the Republican primary season.
Herb Kohl, a four-term Democratic senator from Wisconsin, spent about $25 million of his money on his four successful campaigns starting in 1988. Kohl is also known as the owner of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks and thought to be among the wealthiest members of Congress.
Michael Huffington might be known more now as the former husband of syndicated columnist and HuffingtonPost.com founder Arianna Huffington. But in 1994, he was a congressman and the Republican candidate for Senate from California. He spent $28 million of his personal fortune on the campaign, and lost to incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein by less than 2 percent of the vote.
Ned Lamont spent more than $16 million of his own money in his campaign for Senate in 2006 in Connecticut. While he was successful in defeating incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary, Lieberman became an independent and defeated Lamont (and Republican Alan Schlesinger) in the general election. Lamont is now running to be Connecticut's governor.
The name Blair Hull may not immediately ring a bell. After making his fortune by founding Hull Group (an equity option market marking firm which was sold to Goldman Sachs), Hull ran for the Democratic nomination for Senate from Illinois in 2004. He spent more than $28 million of his personal fortune on the campaign, which was won by a then-unknown state senator: Barack Obama.