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Field Poll: Whitman leads Poizner in gov race

March 17, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new poll out Wednesday shows the California governor's race could go down to the wire. The leading Republican candidate is in a dead heat with former Governor Jerry Brown. The new poll could spell potential trouble for Steve Poizner.The Field Poll would seem to be devastating news for Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner. It gives Meg Whitman a huge lead three months before the primary. In an interview, Whitman turned her guns on Democratic candidate Jerry Brown. There is no good news in the poll for Brown.

Whitman, the former chief executive officer of eBay, is a billionaire. The first-time candidate has spent $39 million on her primary campaign. And it's paid off, giving her precious name recognition.

In her ads, she's called Poizner a liar.

The new Field Poll shows Whitman holds a giant lead over Poizner, California's former insurance commissioner, by nearly 50 percent.

Poizner's spokesman says his message of across-the-board tax cuts, his plan for illegal immigration and his plan to solve the budget crisis will win out over Whitman's negative campaign"

In a satellite interview Whitman said she is running two campaigns.

"At the same time, we have to begin to turn our attention to Jerry Brown because he's running unopposed in the Democrat primary," said Whitman. "We want to be sure we educate the voters and lay the foundation for what his true track record is."

Brown hasn't really launched his general election campaign. But the latest poll numbers indicate to Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo that Brown could be in trouble if he waits.

Whitman is in a statistical tie with Brown if the election were held today. In the increasingly critical independent vote, Whitman holds a significant lead.

"It will be a very strong contest," said Whitman. "An outsider in business perspective with real-world leadership, and a career 40-year politician who in many ways I think is part of the problem, not part of the solution."

Whitman is seizing on a Tuesday meeting between Jerry Brown and the Laborers' International Union of North America.

"We're going to attack whenever we can, but I'd rather have you attack," said Brown at the meeting. "I'd rather be the nice guy in this race."

"You have to be able to take on the status quo, and if your funding comes from unions, I think it's going to be hard to do that," said Whitman.

The Republican primary will be held on June 8.

Both Poizner and Whitman will be in Southern California Thursday, Poizner for private meetings. Whitman has a public event in the morning in Santa Barbara.