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Poll shows Whitman ahead as gov primary nears

June 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's the billionaire versus a multi-millionaire in California's Republican primary race for governor. Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner are pulling out all the stops as Tuesday's primary election approaches.After seeing her lead dwindle in public opinion polls last month, Meg Whitman has surged back into the lead, leaving opponent Steve Poizner with his work cut out for him.

In the waning days before Tuesday's primary, California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is pounding the pavement hard to catch up to frontrunner Meg Whitman for the Republican nomination for governor.

The latest Field Poll shows Whitman, the former EBay CEO, is ahead with a two-to-one advantage at 51 percent. Poizner, a former Silicon Valley entrepreneur and current state insurance commissioner, is at 25 percent. But 18 percent of likely GOP voters are still undecided.

The candidates are touting their conservative credentials as they appeal to the Republican base. Poizner claims Whitman may not be a true Republican.

"She represents the third term of Governor Schwarzenegger because she's really quite liberal," said Poizner.

"You will not find a tougher, more determined fiscal conservative than me," said Whitman.

Whitman, on the other hand, campaigns as if she's already won the nomination and looking ahead to the November general election, where either she or Poizner will face Calif. Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

"I feel very good about where we are in the primary and then we got to turn around and we've got to take on Jerry Brown and the unions," said Whitman.

This expensive race has set records: Whitman has spent more than $80 million so far, $70 million of it from her own bank account. Poizner has given his campaign $25 million.

She defended her unprecedented spending while also being a fiscal conservative.

"The investment is in getting our message out and getting people to know who I am, and getting my policy positions out there," said Whitman.

Poizner is also having to defend his 100 percent rating from a pro-choice group back in 2004.

"I've become even more conservative," said Poizner. "My conservative principles have definitely crystallized ever since I was elected insurance commissioner."

Undecided voters like Steve Jones only have days to make up their minds and maybe influence the outcome.

"I'm going to think a bit about it. I'm going to search in my heart to see who I think is telling me the truth," said Jones, an undecided Republican voter.

The candidates also differ on illegal immigration: Whitman does not support the new Arizona law, while Poizner does. Poizner just picked up the endorsement of Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who'll be on the front lines enforcing that law.

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