Poll: Brown leads in Calif. governor's race

Chris Rizo Aug. 13, 2009, 5:36pm

Jerry Brown (D)

Gavin Newsom (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown has a narrowing lead over San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the race for governor, a poll indicates.

The Research 2000 poll commissioned by the Daily Kos shows that Brown, who has yet to officially announce he is running for governor, leads Newsom in the race for the Democratic nomination.

The poll shows that Brown leads Newsom by 9 points, 29 percent to 20 percent. A poll in June by J. Moore Methods showed that Brown, a former governor, led Newsom by 20 points.

The Research 2000 poll of 600 likely voters was taken Aug. 9-12. It has margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

On the Republican side, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman leads former Congressman Tom Campbell 24 percent to 19 percent. Trailing is state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, with 9 percent support.

In potential head-to-head match ups in the November 2010 general election, Brown handily beats each of the possible Republican nominees, while Newsom is virtually tied with them, the poll found.

In interviews this month, two of the state's leading Republican political strategists told Legal Newsline that Brown will likely win the Democratic nomination and quite possibly the general election.

Longtime Republican political consultant Sal Russo, a principle in the Sacramento-based Republican PR firm Russo Marsh & Rogers, said Brown is the frontrunner going into the 2010 race.

"A lot can still happen, but he is the favorite," Russo said.

Dan Schnur, a GOP political and media strategist and director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, said it is "very likely" Brown will be the Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

"He has as good or better odds of being elected than any other candidate in the race," Schnur said of Brown's chances of becoming governor again.

Grant Gillham, a veteran political consultant, said voter registration numbers in the Golden State are definitely on Brown's side since there are about 7.6 million registered Democrats in the state, compared to 5.3 million Republicans and 2.5 million 'Decline to State' voters.

"Anyone underestimating Attorney General Brown's ability to become the next governor of California is making a big mistake," Gillham told Legal Newsline.

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is unable to seek reelection because of term limits. Brown, who was California governor from 1975 to 1983, held office before the term limits law was enacted, thus allowing him to run again.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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