Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner continue to duel

The race has been heating up between California Republican gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. Whitman has been excitedly racking up endorsements, and quickly informing her supporters of them. 

In an April 22nd campaign update, Whitman recognized LA County Supervisor Don Knabe as the latest, well-known politician to throw his support behind her gubernatorial aspirations. Whitman may indeed prize this endorsement particularly, as Knabe has connections to MTA and Metrolink. 

Is she possibly hoping for friends of Knabe to go to bat for her? Whitman expressed her delight that Knabe came to Whitman’s side “To make California better again… Working together, we can reinvigorate California’s economy, eliminate waste and inefficiency in Sacramento and improve our schools.”

Whitman has also been focusing on another key demographic: women.  If elected, Whitman would be the first female governor of California. For a state prized for its forward-thinking, California, surprisingly, has yet to elect into office a female chief executive.

A former businesswoman, Whitman knows how to play the game, and recognizes an opportunity when she sees it. Taking a Sarah Palin approach, Whitman is hoping that other women, regardless of political affiliation, will support her bid. In an April 20 announcement, Whitman invited supporters to join her women’s coalition, MEGaWomen, to accomplish the goal of “Inspir[ing] women throughout California to Recruit, Volunteer, and VOTE.”

Whitman calls MEGaWomen a “critical part” of her campaign, and explains her goal this election season is that the “Dynamic women [of California]… take action… Whether you are working, in school, raising a family, enjoying your grandchildren, or a young professional, we want you involved in this important effort.”

The enterprising businesswoman she is known to be, Whitman has picked the demographics she needs the most, and is enacting surgically precise campaigns to attract them. In the beginning of the 2010 race, Whitman hit Poizner, and she hit him hard, with commercials listing numerically numbered reasons why Poizner should not be elected for governor.

Today, however, Poizner has mounted a strong counter-offensive strategy, and has been keeping busy in his own right. In recent days, Poizner’s camp has enjoyed some light at the end of the tunnel, probably helped mainly by his increased visibility in more direct ads attacking Whitman.

One ad aligns Whitman’s views with those of President Obama.  Capitol Weekly also notes that, fortunately for Poizner, trouble may be on the horizon for Whitman. Ben Tulchin told Capitol Weekly that “[Whitman’s] ahead, but compared to other polling that’s out there, her numbers have dropped… She’s spent a lot of money and she’s under 50 percent.”

Looking to keep himself in the limelight and to take some of the wind out of Whitman’s sails, Poizner also accepted former governor Jerry Brown’s challenge to debate before the official debate season even starts, while Whitman has demurred until Brown is officially the California Democratic Party’s choice to nominate. Whether Poizner’s calculation  to pre-debate Brown will pay off or not, remains to be seen.

On the other hand, as is said so often in Hollywood, no publicity is bad publicity.