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California’s Choice 2010: Brown vs Whitman

posted Mar 26, 2011, 8:19 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Mar 29, 2011, 2:12 PM ]

Posted in Spectrum

By Sean McCreary


With the November 2nd election date more than a month away, a heated gubernatorial campaign is already underway between Democratic candidate Jerry Brown and Republican candidate Meg Whitman.  So far the election has been rated as a toss-up, with neither candidate having a clear advantage. 

Each has a widely different background from the other. Brown made his debut in politics as the Secretary of State of California and used his previously weak position to bring about lawsuits against various oil conglomerates.  His career took off with his 1974 election to the governor’s office of California, taking over for Republican icon Ronald Regan, who had defeated his father Edmund G. Brown in 1966.  After taking office, he gained a reputation as a liberal Democrat who had a proclivity to fiscal conservatism.  During his two terms as governor, he campaigned twice for the Democratic nomination for President in 1976 and in 1980 where he suffered a famous loss by winning no state primaries.  After declining to run for a third term in 1982, Brown traveled abroad away from the political spotlight. After ten years of being out of public office, he ran against then-Governor Bill Clinton during the 1992 Democratic Presidential primaries.  He emerged as the future President’s greatest challenger until he lost the Wisconsin and New York primary elections.  He remained out of office until he successfully ran for mayor of Oakland, then he became the California state Attorney General in 2006.  After he announced his candidacy for the 2010 election for governor, he had no serious primary challengers on the Democratic side.  For the November election, Brown has principally touted fiscal conservatism and investment in renewable energies as methods for rescuing California’s troubled economy, an economy that suffers with a 12.5% unemployment rate.  

Opposite Brown stands former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, a political novice with a distinguished background in business.  A graduate of Princeton and Harvard business school, Whitman served at executive positions at various firms including the Walt Disney Company, Procter & Gamble, DreamWorks, Hasbro, and most famously at internet titan eBay from 1998 to 2008.  Leaving eBay with a personal worth of over $1.3 billion, she announced her candidacy for governor in 2009 and has since campaigned aggressively in the primaries where she defeated Republican nominee Steve Poizner and now faces Jerry Brown in the general election.  With a self-defined “atrocious” voting record, Whitman says that her business background will bring a practice of fiscal restraint long-needed in Sacramento. 

She has levied heavy criticism on Brown through a blitzing ad campaign (through which she broke the record for a personal financing of a state election campaign with $119 million) for being a political insider and raising taxes during his tenure as governor. Brown counters that the allegations of raising taxes are false.  As the election approaches, Whitman is stepping up her campaign even further with a tremendous monetary advantage. Brown hopes to defeat his opponent with his much greater name recognition and the support of California’s labor unions.  Whatever the talking points of the debates, Whitman and Brown will be in non-stop self-promotion mode until November 2nd when Californians will weigh the facts and make their final decision.