View Full Version : Governor's race narrows

10-18-2009, 08:32 PM
Governor's race narrows to three socially moderate Republican, two Democrats generation apart

10:20 PM PDT on Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

The race to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger next year could become a fierce contest that draws national attention.

Schwarzenegger is barred by term limits from seeking re-election, and national political figures such as former President Bill Clinton and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani already have weighed in with endorsements.

Most voters, a recent poll found, think California is on the wrong track, and the next governor will inherit the state's fiscal mess and a host of issues from prison overcrowding to water shortages.

The next governor also could influence the balance in Washington. Any 2011 congressional redistricting plan passed by the Legislature, where Democrats have a large majority, would need to be approved by the governor.

Redistricting is highly political with Democrats and Republicans vying to draw districts where they can dominate.

The 2010 governor's race comes down to a contest for the Republican nomination between three socially moderate candidates and a generational choice among the two likely Democratic contenders.

On the Republican side, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, 53, is seeking elected office for the first time against former congressman Tom Campbell, 57, and state insurance commissioner Steve Poizner, 52, former a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, 42, has been campaigning for months for the Democratic nomination. His likely opponent, Attorney General Jerry Brown, 71, a former two-term governor, has formed an exploratory committee to seek the post again but has not officially announced a candidacy.

"Democrats start off with the edge. But it's not out of reach for the Republicans, either," Claremont McKenna government professor Jack Pitney said. "Mid terms are good for the party out of the White House."

GOP Battle

All three GOP candidates are touting tax cuts and streamlined regulations to grow the state's economy but have stayed away from hot-button social issues such as gay marriage and illegal immigration.

In a recent Field Poll, nearly half of Republican voters surveyed said they were undecided. Whitman and Campbell were statistically tied in the poll released in early October. Whitman led among older voters, and Campbell held the edge among those under 50. Poizner was third in the poll, about 10 percentage points behind.

"It is very fluid," Pitney said. "That (race) could go in any direction."

Whitman and Poizner have traded blows for months. Whitman has acknowledged and apologized for a poor record of voting in state elections.

Whitman, who received Giuliani's backing, and Poizner can call upon personal fortunes to advertise heavily as the election approaches. Campbell, despite a "budget of a buck ninety-eight" continues to show surprising strength, Pitney said.

Dan Schnur, director of USC's Unruh Institute of Politics, said Republicans generally have had more orderly primaries than Democrats.

"This time it looks like the opposite might be true," he said. "At this early stage, the primary looks like a three-way jump ball."

The Republican race also is notable, because there is no candidate from the state party's influential social-conservative wing. Whitman, Poizner and Campbell are all social moderates.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, a social conservative who represents part of southwestern Riverside County, ran for governor in 2003 and has a personal fortune. But his office said Issa will not be running in 2010.

Democratic primary

In the Democratic race, the Field Poll showed Brown holding a 20-point advantage over Newsom. That's 10 percentage points larger than Brown's lead in a similar Field Poll in March.

But the race could be closer than that come June.

For one, Brown's lead is just 5 percent in Northern California and 9 percent among female voters, the October Field Poll found.

Newsom leads among voters under age 40.

"Jerry Brown obviously has an advantage. But a lot of that is driven by name ID," Pitney said. "As the primary gets closer, Newsom will have an opportunity to introduce himself. And Newsom has Bill Clinton raising money for him and that is a significant asset."

Leading up to the 2006 primary election, then-Treasurer Phil Angelides and then-Controller Steve Westly spent heavily in a months-long brawl. Angelides eventually won.

Bill Carrick, a Democratic strategist who worked for Angelides but is not working for either Brown or Newsom, said this campaign could be much different.

"The structural advantages are all on Jerry's side: higher name ID, a fundraising network and the AG's office is a pretty good platform," Carrick said.

Newsom isn't well-known outside the San Francisco Bay Area, hasn't run statewide and has never had to raise the millions of dollars needed to run advertisements in the expensive Southern California media market, Carrick said.

"Having said all that, he's young, attractive and articulate," Carrick said.

Newsom has been crisscrossing the state for months as part of his campaign. He has touted his record as mayor and highlighted San Francisco's health care and environmental programs.

Newsom is well known across California for his support of gay marriage. He has made an effort to reach out to voters in more conservative parts of the state, including stops this summer in Riverside and San Bernardino, in an effort to convince voters he is more than a single-issue candidate.

Brown, who served as governor before term limit laws, is not expected to decide whether to officially enter the race until the first of the year. There also is still the possibility that more candidates will jump in the race. Sen. Dianne Feinstein would lead the Democratic field if she decided to run, polls show.

10-18-2009, 08:46 PM
Humph! All lightweights. Nightingale will bring our state back from the brink. Casting your ballot for anyone else is simply wasting your role in a participatory democracy ... either that or an act of betrayal (you choose).

10-19-2009, 06:02 AM
I would simply urge EVERY voter to know the candidate before you vote. Don't take one opinion, check their past and present. Take your time and do your best to get it right. The State cannot afford another mistake.