Dissatisfied Voters to Choose Between Brown, Whitman - NBC Bay Area

Dissatisfied Voters to Choose Between Brown, Whitman



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    Republican gubernatorial candidate and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (L) and Democratic gubernatorial candidate and California State Attorney General Jerry Brown wave to the audience at the conclusion of a debate October 12, 2010 at Dominican University of California in San Rafael, California. Brown and Whitman faced off in their final debate before election day on November 2, 2010.

    California voters will decide Tuesday whether Democrat Jerry Brown or Republican Meg Whitman will be the state's next governor, a choice 55 percent of likely voters recently said they were not satisfied with.

    Whitman even acknowledged such in a television commercial.

    "Many of you see this election as an unhappy choice between a longtime politician with no plan for the future and a billionaire with no government experience," Whitman said.

    The dissatisfaction stems from a campaign where "the emphasis on both sides has been more on the negative than the positive, more on what are the faults and frailties of the opponent as opposed to what about the candidates' positions that are going to lead to positive change," said Mark Baldassare, the president and chief executive officer of the Public Policy Institute of California which conducted the poll.

    "There's been a certain amount of disappointment on the part of voters that at this important moment that they are not hearing from the candidates what they need," Baldassare told City News Service.

    The telephone poll of 1,067 likely voters conducted between Oct. 10-17 found that 42 percent were satisfied with the choices of gubernatorial candidates and 3 percent didn't know.

    Among Democrats, 50 percent were satisfied and 46 percent not satisfied, while Republicans were not satisfied by a 58 percent-38 percent margin and independents were not satisfied by a 68 percent-30 percent margin. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

    The high level of dissatisfaction among independents could mean "a lot of independents won't show up to vote," Baldassare said.

    The most memorable moments of the campaign are not ones that figured to inspire voters -- the revelation that Whitman fired her longtime housekeeper after learning she was an illegal immigrant and an aide to Brown allegedly calling Whitman a whore.

    Whitman spent $163 million on her campaign through Oct. 16, the most by a statewide candidate in American history, according to figures from the Secretary of State's Office.

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    Much of the money was donated by Whitman herself, a billionaire and former chief executive officer of the online auction site eBay who is making her first run for office.

    Whitman formed an exploratory committee Feb. 9, 2009 and formally declared her candidacy Sept. 22, 2009.

    Four days later, her rival for the Republican nomination, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, called for her to drop out of the race after The Sacramento Bee reported that she did not vote much of her adult life.

    "There has never been a person elected governor anywhere in this country with a voting record like hers," Poizner said during a news conference at the California Republican Party's Fall Convention. "Voters will not elect her as governor."

    Whitman has apologized for her voting record.

    Brown, the state's attorney general, was long coy about whether he would try to reclaim the office he held from 1975-83. He eventually announced his candidacy March 2 via a video posted on his campaign's website.

    Brown drew 84.4 percent of the vote to top six little-known candidates to win the Democratic nomination. Whitman defeated Poizner, 64.4 percent-26.7 percent, in a bruising Republican primary.

    Brown has touted his experience. Whitman has focused on three issues -- creating jobs, cutting government spending and improving education.

    Whitman is trying to become California's first female governor. Democrats twice nominated women for the office, Dianne Feinstein and Kathleen Brown, Jerry Brown's sister, but both lost to Pete Wilson.

    Brown is trying to join Earl Warren as California's only governors to be elected to three four-year terms. California's term limits law does not apply to Brown because he was elected before it was adopted in 1990.

    Brown's father, Edmund G. "Pat" Brown was denied a third term by Ronald Reagan in 1966.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is barred from running for re-election because of term limits. He has not endorsed a candidate.