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Whitman breezes into Sacramento

June 6, 2010 |  6:26 pm
GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman blew into the Sacramento area along with a much-needed Delta breeze on a day in which local temperatures climbed into the 90s.

The rally at a dusty ranch just south of the Capitol kicked off with a twangy band called Moonshine putting their spin on '60s oldies music. Hay trucks and tractors and other farm equipment helped wall off the area where the crowd gathered. Just down the road, in another part of what was once the same ranch, was a sign of the state’s economic  malaise: an abandoned construction site where developers had hoped to build a shopping mall but then pulled the plug when the real estate market bottomed out.

Pete Wilson introduced Whitman, looking relaxed in blue jeans and a tucked in plaid button-down shirt with short sleeves. He joked about how the media accused him of bullying lawmakers when he was governor. “If they thought I was tough, they ain’t seen nothing yet,” he said.

Radio host Eric Hogue served as master of ceremonies, leading the crowd to chants of “Take Back Sac!” GOP state Sen. Tony Strickland, who is running for controller, worked to rile the crowd by accusing the Legislature of being an “economic development agency” for Texas and Florida.

Meg thanked each of them: “Yay Pete… Yay Tony.” 

Voters who attended the event did their best to have a positive outlook about the nastiness of the primary campaign. “It showed her resilience and ability to persevere through a tough campaign,” said Stacie Hewitt, a 31-year-old educator from Pleasant Grove.

Those interviewed who were frustrated by the tone of the campaign tended to direct their anger at “labor unions” and “liberals” and not Whitman primary opponent Steve Poizner.

One voter, however, said he attended the event because despite the tens of millions of dollars spent on advertisements and other campaign materials by the candidates, he still was unclear what exactly Whitman stood for.

“The waters have become so muddied by these negative campaigns,” said Stephen Leonard, a 59-year-old veterinarian from Elk Grove.. “Nobody answers any questions. Poizner puts up these ads with her direct quotes and then she refutes it. What is the truth? Is she for or against illegal immigration?”

Whitman avoided any mention of her opponent except when she addressed that topic.

“I am 100% against amnesty,” she said. “No exceptions. You would not know that seeing my opponent’s ads, would you? But that’s the truth.”

Otherwise, she reserved her attacks for Jerry Brown, who she mentioned by name. “Jerry Brown was already governor 35 years ago, and it was not a great run,” she said.

-- Evan Halper in Elk Grove