Jerry Brown (D)

Meg Whitman (R)

Steve Poizner (R)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown's lead in the state's gubernatorial race is narrowing, a poll released Friday indicates.

Brown, who has yet to officially enter the race for the Democratic nomination, has seen his lead over Republican candidates Meg Whitman and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner dwindle in recent months, a Field Poll shows.

"Brown currently leads both GOP candidates in general election match-ups but by narrower margins than he did last October," said pollsters Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field.

In a hypothetical general election matchup against Whitman, Brown has a 10-point lead over the former eBay chief executive, 46 percent to 36 percent. In October, Brown had more than a 20 point lead over Whitman.

Against Poisner, Brown leads by 17 points, down from the 25-point lead he had in the fall.

In an interview Thursday, Brown acknowledged that Democrats might have a tough electoral road ahead, especially given this week's stunning upset in Massachusetts, where Republican Scott Brown beat out state Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democrat, for the U.S. Senate seat held for more than four decades by liberal icon Ted Kennedy.

"It's a serious wake-up call," Brown said on KGO Radio of San Francisco. "Everybody ought to be looking at it, even Republicans. People are irritated, they're scared, and I think everybody in the political class needs to take notice."

So far, Brown is the only Democrat officially exploring a race for his party's nomination to succeed Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is barred by term limits from running for reelection.

California governor from 1975 to 1983, Brown may seek another two terms as the state's chief executive because he led California 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. He unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nominations for U.S. president in 1976, 1980, and 1992.

In the fight for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Whitman and Poizner have both invested heavily in their campaigns. On Thursday, Whitman said she was putting $20 million into her campaign coffers. The move brings Whitman's personal contributions to her campaign to $39 million.

Poizner, also a former Silicon Valley business leader, has given his campaign $19 million.

The Field Poll indicates that 45 percent of likely Republican primary voters support Whitman, while 17 percent said they back Poizner.

The poll, conducted from January 5-17, surveyed 958 likely general election voters and 202 likely voters in the Republican primary.

The general election survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, while the GOP primary poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 7.1 percentage points.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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