Disclosure: I don’t work for any of the candidates. I know Campbell and Poizner, and have met with Whitman, but my only current involvement is that I want the GOP to win because I think a Democrat Governor will mean crushing taxes and a radical agenda that will damage California for decades.
Currently there are three (3) candidates working to secure the GOP nomination – all from Northern California and all more moderate than much of the base of the Republican Party.
Many – myself included – have talked about the likelihood that a more conservative, Southern California Republican could enter the race. But the window is rapidly closing for a new entry.
Here’s a run down of the current line-up:
Tom Campbell is the candidate of ideas. He is easily the smartest, most articulate person in the race – the only candidate who’s offered real ideas and details about how he would solve California’s problems. You might not like all of his ideas – but it’s clear Campbell offers serious, thoughtful solutions. Campbell has earned a reputation as a fiscal conservative and straight shooter. He’s supported a couple of troubling issues, like 1A and a new temporary gas tax, but doing so seems more about doing what he feels is necessary to keep the ship afloat rather than any ideological support of more government revenue. Despite moderate social positions, he’s a team player who’ll help conservative candidates and he’s polling surprisingly well. Unfortunately, his campaign currently lacks the horsepower his billionaire opponents can put together and he trails exponentially in money. But don’t count him out – he’s running on substance and if voters rebel against the fluff-or-attack focus of the other campaigns, former Congressman, Budget Director, law and economics professor Tom Campbell is the kind of candidate they could turn to.
Whitman is the candidate with momentum – an icon of the ingenuity that made California great. Many Republican leaders look at Whitman as the candidate of hope for building the GOP. She’s attracted support from heavyweight conservatives and moderates – including Pete Wilson, who Republicans regard with more fondness than ever. Her momentum suffered a setback with accusations that she’d not bothered to vote very often. But it turns out the reporting was sloppy and the accusations were overblown, so the overall impact of the issue has been greatly diminished. If she can weather the current storm and expand her team, she’ll continue to emerge as the GOP front-runner.
Steve Poizner has evolved from the citizen-statesman to a full-blown politician. Despite a results-oriented background in business and public service, Poizner’s campaign has devolved into a game of political gotcha that delights insiders but turns off voters.
With considerable wealth, smarts and an impressive background, Steve is the candidate you want to like. He has support from major GOP leaders like Jim Brulte, but a steady stream of political supporters have dumped him for other candidates. He’s lavished cash on GOP candidates and causes, but along the way he’s burned through a lot of GOP consultants and activists and apparently left behind bills and bad feelings.
Poizner trails significantly in every poll taken to date, but rather than defining himself and his issues, his campaign is focused on clever attacks and political games. In the midst of an attack on Whitman’s fundraising, Poizner spokesman said “voters already know Poizner from the years he’s spent in public service before running for governor.” I don’t think voters know who Poizner is yet, but if his campaign is right, then voters just aren’t buying it…