Whitman, Poizner make final push for Ca. GOP gubernatorial nomination
By Sandhya Somashekhar
LOS ANGELES - On the last day of campaigning before Republicans choose their nominee for California governor, the two candidates are zigzagging around the state in a last-ditch attempt to scrounge up votes.
But attention lately has zeroed in on former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who polls suggest is the frontrunner by far over insurance commissioner Steve Poizner. Over the weekend, the media marveled at the enormous amount Whitman has spent in trying to win the nomination: $80 million, including $71 million of her own money. Much of it has been spent on chartered jets and Washington consultants, according to the Boston Globe.
Poizner, who spent $25 million of his own money on his bid, called Whitman's investment "obscene." Former governor Jerry Brown, her likely Democratic opponent, released an Internet video ad titled "Enough Already!" excoriating both candidates for their lavish spending at a time of economic duress.
And in a narrative sure to pick up momentum as the general election campaign gets going, some critics are asking whether such a big spender can be relied upon to cut government spending, as Whitman has promised to do as governor.
In an e-mail, Whitman campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said the investment is necessary to spread the message about the campaign. "Meg is the only candidate who has balanced budgets and who will take on the status quo to end the continuous overspending in Sacramento," she wrote. "During this campaign, Meg will invest the resources necessary to let voters know she will take on the union bosses supporting Jerry Brown who are determined to see she doesn't have the chance to change business as usual."
Even though Whitman is ahead of Poizner by as much as 25 points in recent polls, she has not let up. She got some help over the weekend from former presidential candidate Mitt Romney (R) and former California governor Pete Wilson (R), who joined her for multiple appearances on Saturday and Sunday.
Her remarks at a Sunday afternoon rally in Elk Grove, outside of Sacramento, rally suggested the weekend was as much the kick-off of a general election campaign as the end of a primary run. "Jerry Brown was already governor 35 years ago, and it was not a great run," she told the crowd, according to the LA Times.
On Monday, she will make a couple of appearances in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas before heading back to her home region of the San Francisco Bay Area for a rally.
Poizner spent the weekend communicating with voters and volunteers across southern California, precinct-walking in Orange County and holding a town hall meeting in Riverside. On Monday he holds rallies in Pasadena and Santa Clara.
June 7, 2010; 10:24 AM ET
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