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Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee switches endorsement from Steve Poizner to Meg Whitman

February 17, 2010 | 12:54 pm

Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) announced Wednesday that he was dropping his endorsement of Steve Poizner for governor and backing former EBay CEO Meg Whitman.

"As the former Assembly Republican leader, I understand the importance of a unified team if we are going to win," Blakeslee said in a statement Wednesday. "A bloody primary battle is not in the best interest of our party. Meg is best positioned to solve the state’s problems and win in a competitive election against Jerry Brown.”

Blakeslee's flip-flop is the latest example of Republican unease about the party's general election prospects as surrogates for Democrat Jerry Brown begin attacking Whitman in radio ads.

Whitman's surrogates have used the attacks as an excuse to turn up the heat on Poizner to get out of the governor's race while her campaign engages Brown directly.

In an e-mail to reporters today, Whitman's campaign began dumping its opposition research file on Brown, noting that when Brown left the governor's office in 1983, the state had "a $1 billion deficit and record unemployment."

Of course, that would be seen as good news by today's standards. Department of Finance records show unemployment at 10% during Brown's final year in office, compared with 12.1% for 2009. The state's deficit now stands at an estimated $20 billion.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

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