Poizner trails Whitman but pounds pavement

June 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
T-minus four days and counting now until voters go to the polls, so the Republican candidates for governor are pushing hard for the finish line.

A new field poll shows that California insurance commissioner Steve Poizner has a lot of catching-up to do. He is trailing former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who leads 51 percent to his 25 percent and each candidate is claiming to be the real conservative.

"I'm the conservative in the race with a track record," says Poizner.

In the waning days before Tuesday's primary, Poizner is pounding the pavement hard to catch up to front runner for the Republican nomination for governor.

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 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger because she's really quite liberal," says Poizner.

"You will not find a tougher, more determined fiscal conservative then me," says 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 Poinzer will face 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," says 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 position positions out there," says Whitman.

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

"Over the last years, I've become even more conservative. My conservative principles have definitely crystallized ever since I was elected insurance commissioner," says Poizner.

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," says Jones.

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 Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who'll be on the frontlines enforcing that law.


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