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Steve Poizner fights for conservative crown in bid for governor

by Susannah Kopecky, published

Steve Poizner is California’s State Insurance Commissioner, and now the Stanford graduate is running for governor of California. Poizner, like his main rival Meg Whitman, is an individual with extensive experience in the business world. And like Whitman, he is looking to be nominated by the California Republican Party for the gubernatorial run.

You may be familiar with Steve Poizner because of the Whitman campaign ads which compare him to a California liberal. (“Reason number 29: "Steve Poizner joined with liberal unions to weaken Prop 13 and raise your property taxes. Steve? He’s no tax cutter.”)

In many regions, to be an “authentic” Republican, one must also be a certifiable conservative. The California gubernatorial campaign is no different.  Leading Republican hopefuls are touting their conservative credentials as evidence of their viability. While Poizner’s competitors call him weak on tax cutting, Poizner’s own campaign points out his opposition to Proposition 1A, his position against May 2009 tax increases, and his support for more than $200 million in rate reductions for California AAA customers.

Poizner’s campaign also points to his conservative credentials, including State Senator John Benoit’s lauding of Poizner as a “strong fiscal conservative” with “good experience in government and out.” In the past, Poizner has been lauded as a conservative, as a “reformist” and a thinker with an independent-bent.

Interestingly, though he is a California Republican, Poizner does have some certifiable conservative credentials. In 2001, he began working with the White House and the National Security Council, and was elected in 2006 in a year which heavily disfavored California Republicans. In his bid for the governorship, Poizner has already outlined a seven-part plan to cut the state’s massive budget deficit, which includes spending freezes, debt freezes, hiring freezes and a legislative waiting period.

The first three parts, components of his “10-10-10 Plan” are as follows: cutting 10% in personal income tax, sales tax and corporate taxes, cutting 10% in state spending over a two-year time period, and last, by the end of his first term, Poizner hopes to add $10 billion in the state’s Rainy Day fund.

Next, the Poizner budget plan relies on four principles: economic recovery and reduction of large deficits to rebuild the state’s budget; freezing spending “at current levels to the maximum extent possible”; seeking spending reductions which are “deliberate, reflect public policy priorities, and accompanied by policy changes that lead to more efficient government operations” and permanently fixing the state’s budget woes through “genuine belt-tightening.”

Is Poizner the “true” conservative of this race? Only time will tell…

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