Poll: Brown, Whitman neck-and-neck

Chris Rizo Mar. 12, 2010, 2:20pm

Jerry Brown (D)

Meg Whitman (R)

Steve Poizner (R)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown is in a statistical dead heat with his No. 1 Republican rival in the governor's race, a poll indicates.

Brown, a Democrat, leads Republican Meg Whitman 45 percent to 41 percent in the Research 2000 poll released Thursday.

Whitman is not the only Republican vying to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger next year as the Golden State's chief executive. State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is competing with Whitman for their party's nomination.

In the poll, Whitman has a commanding lead over Poizner, 51 percent to 19 percent, for the Republican nomination. If Poizner were to emerge as the GOP nominee, the poll indicates that Brown would handily beat him, 48 percent to 33 percent.

The Research 2000 poll was conducted for the liberal blog the Daily Kos. The survey was conducted by the Maryland-based polling firm from Monday to Wednesday among likely voters. Its margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Brown, 71, formally entered the governor's race recently, after publicly considering a run for months. He served as governor from 1975 to 1983, and has sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. president three times.

Whitman and Poizner are both wealthy former Silicon Valley executives, who have put large sums of money into their respective campaigns. Whitman is the former chief executive of eBay, while Poizner owned the GPS company SnapTrack Inc.

Whitman has given her campaign $45 million. Poizner has stuffed his campaign war chest with $19 million of his own money.

In an e-mail to reporters Thursday, the Brown campaign took aim at Whitman for giving her campaign so much money.

"In the past seven months Meg has moved two points closer to Jerry in a head to head matchup," Brown campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford. "To get that two point improvement, the 'Talk to Me' Whitman campaign has spent an unprecedented $45 million plus."

Brown may seek another two terms as governor because he was governor before term limits were enacted. He was the mayor of Oakland, Calif., from 1998 to 2006, before being elected as the state's chief legal officer in 2007.

In its analysis, the hyperpartisan Daily Kos called the poll surprising.

"Brown has run the most invisible, stealth campaign, in state history. Seriously, the dude is nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Whitman has spent tents of millions of dollars in her campaign, and is running on near saturation television ads."

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

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