Meg Whitman GOP nominee to face Brown

Posted on June 9, 2010


California GOP voters on Tuesday sent wealthy but politically inexperienced businesswoman Meg Whitman to challenge Attorney General Jerry Brown, the aging heir to a Democratic dynasty, in the November general election for governor. The former eBay chief executive cinched the Republican Party’s nomination over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner after spending more than $81 million – about $71 million of it her own money. Poizner, a multimillionaire technology entrepreneur, poured $25 million of his own into the race that featured nonstop negative advertising.

Voting Tuesday morning, he called the gubernatorial race “an epic battle over the future direction of the state of California.”

With 10 percent of precincts reporting, Whitman had 63 percent of the vote compared to Poizner’s 27 percent. Whitman now faces Brown, a former two-term governor and son of a former governor. Brown faced no serious opposition in the Democratic primary. In a state hard hit by the recession and beset with ongoing budget deficits, Poizner and Whitman, both 55, tangled over such issues as illegal immigration and abortion, typically hot-button topics among Republican primary votes. Each candidate also promised to rein in state spending and cut taxes. Whitman has pledged to eliminate 40,000 state government jobs. Whitman, a first-time candidate with a spotty voting history, jumped to an early lead in the polls after spending millions introducing herself to voters and conducting highly orchestrated public events that initially limited her access to political reporters. Her campaign continued its tightly controlled message on Election Day. It announced that Whitman would have no public events until an evening party and would forgo the traditional voting-booth photo-op, an event that likely would rekindle questions about her poor voting record. Whitman found herself on the defensive in the final weeks before the primary as Poizner began spending his money and running critical TV ads.

He exploited Whitman’s opposition to Arizona’s new immigration law and her ties to Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, where Whitman served as a member of the board in 2001-02 and became entangled in a federal investigation involving initial public stock offerings. Poizner’s ads began airing just as the firm was facing civil fraud charges for its trading during the meltdown in the housing market. Poizner’s attacks allowed him to pull close to Whitman, but he was unable to keep the momentum as Whitman responded with negative ads of her own painting Poizner as a flip-flopper. A Field Poll released late last week showed Whitman regaining her wide advantage, maintaining a 26-point lead with Republican primary voters. Even so, 18 percent of likely voters remained undecided as the primary approached.

Brown, who turned 72 this year, spent the last several months courting campaign donors and banking more than $20 million for what will undoubtedly be an expensive general election contest. On Tuesday, Brown took a veiled swipe at Whitman’s reputation for controlling her message.

“I’m looking forward to a campaign where people get to see the candidates, not just the commercials,” Brown said.

The candidates are seeking to replace Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is termed out of office in January. Turnout on Tuesday is expected to be relatively light, with perhaps a third of California’s 16.9 million registered voters casting ballots.

Posted in: The Anti News