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As Whitman gains, Brown runs lackluster campaign

by Bob Morris, published

An Ipsos poll last week showed Jerry Brown ahead of Meg Whitman by 6 points, 45%-39% in the California governor’s race. Just yesterday, a Field Poll revealed that Brown's lead narrowed to a mere 1%.  Californian Republicans are more enthusiastic about the election, the Ipsos poll showed, and more apt to vote than Democrats. The economy and jobs are a primary concern over 50%. A whopping 78% thought the state was on the “wrong track.” 

I’m guessing an equal percentage might also think that plans for 10 debates between Whitman and Brown are just a tad on the excessive side. Even presidential campaigns don’t have this many debates. Predictably, both candidates have accused the other of being slackers, sitting on the sidelines, and not being active in the campaign. If this is a prelude to what the campaigns will be like, then they may be long on attacks and short on substance. 

Whitman has spent over $80 million on her campaign as of June 3, $68 million of it being her own money. Yet, there was a kerfuffle in the press about Brown owning a $1.8 million house in Oakland, implying this shows that his frugality stance is just a pose. However, Whitman lives in a $3 million home in a gated community. So, they have nice homes. What a shock. Brown’s home was listed at $2.68 million when he and his wife bought it in 2007, so the value has nosedived. And given her fortune, I’m surprised Whitman doesn’t live in a bigger house.

But really, isn’t this irrelevant? The real issue is, what will they do for the state and how will they handle the mounting budget crisis? 

So far, Brown’s campaign has been, well, quirky. He’s made no statements on how he will handle the budget crisis, something Whitman has rightfully lambasted him for. He recently said he would “rock the boat” but not too much in an attempt to put the state on an even keel.  That’s a nice cotton candy sound bite but it contains little substance. What will he do to get the state solvent again? That’s what we need to know.  

And what is it with his campaign website? The homepage still features his announcement video, even though that’s ancient news, and has truly odd blurbs about his tires being stolen, his mother’s banana cake, and asks what theme song they should use for an upcoming “Recession Reception.” Um, those who have lost jobs and homes might not think the recession is something to be taken so apparently lightly.

Also, the site has barely been updated in recent weeks and still contains absolutely nothing about fixing the California budget. That’s right, nothing. By contrast, Whitman’s campaign site constantly has fresh information and actual policy proposals. Brown’s website seems to match his campaign, quirky, and with no defined message, as of yet. 

Well, he does say “the process is the plan” and that he's going to be presenting voters with choices so they can decide what to cut, as well as whether or not to raise taxes. Well gosh, that’s very Zen-like and democratic, but we have an overdue budget and a $19 billion deficit now. Letting the voters decide on these issues shouldn’t take more than a year or two each go-round. Talk about a train wreck waiting to happen.

Whitman proposes to create jobs, cut spending, and fix education. But those are long-term goals, and the budget monster is at the doorstep now. 

Let’s hope the candidates will present serious, detailed proposals to solve the huge problems that California faces now.

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