LOS GATOS, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-After weeks of political rumors, polls and pundits chattering about potential Democratic contenders for the 2010 California governor's election, the Republicans finally have a new candidate to talk about.
California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, 51, has formed an exploratory committee that allows him to begin raising money for a bid to replace Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who can not seek re-election because of term limits.
The Los Gatos Republican said he is a proven businessman with the political experience necessary to be an effective governor, according to published reports.
Since June, several high-profile Democratic candidates, including California Attorney General Jerry Brown, have jockeyed for position in the race that is still by any measure months from officially starting.
But even as the nation focuses on the upcoming presidential election, California's politicians have been making strategic moves to best position themselves for what is expected to be a highly crowded 2010 governor's race.
In addition to Brown, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell and State Treasurer Bill Lockyer have all shown interest in running.
Garamendi and Newsom have formed exploratory committees of their own, as has Republican Tom Campbell, Schwarzenegger's finance director.
But while polls about the Democratic primary have made news across the state and political insiders have openly speculated about the crowded Democratic field, Republicans have been mostly in the background, at least so far.
What speculation there is has focused on Poizner, who sold his technology business for $1 billion in 2000, and Former eBay CEO and billionaire Meg Whitman.
Whitman made a national speech in support of Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain during the recent Republican National Convention.
Republican political analyst Tony Quinn said Poizner is a moderate Republican in the Schwarzenegger mode, which can be popular alternative to well known Democrats depending on the state's outlook as the election nears.
Poizner, like Whitman and Campbell, is considered a fiscal conservative and social moderate, which has been successful in the general election in years past. The primaries however, present a bigger hurdle, political analysts said.
"California has very liberal Democratic primaries and very conservative Republican primaries," Republican commentator John Fleischman told Legal Newsline in an earlier interview.
Knowing that, Poizner issued 23 Republican endorsements when he announced his exploratory committee, including the names of several conservatives. He also announced, according to published reports, that Jim Brulte, a well-known GOP strategist and former Legislator would chair Poizner's campaign.