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Whitman takes aim at Brown in victory speech

June 8, 2010 | 10:18 pm

California gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times and Associated Press
A beaming Meg Whitman proclaimed victory Tuesday night, pledging to bring the fight to Jerry Brown in the general election and, once elected, to fix the state's government, schools and business climate.

Noting that she and GOP Senate nominee Carly Fiorina both won their primaries, Whitman issued a warning to their competitors, Brown and Sen. Barbara Boxer, who have a combined 59 years in elected office.

“Career politicians in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., be warned: You now face your worst nightmare,” she said to deafening applause. “Two businesswomen from the real world who know how to create jobs, balance budgets and get things done.”

Whitman, wearing a plum suit and strands of pearls, briefly acknowledged primary rival Steve Poizner, saying he had phoned with a “gracious” concession. She said she is a better, “battle-tested” candidate because of their competition, which grew ugly, saturated with negative advertising and accusations of lying to voters.

But Whitman focused her fire on Brown, saying he is an example of what is wrong with Sacramento. She cited high unemployment, increased state spending and a $1-billion budget deficit during Brown’s tenure as governor.

“Jerry Brown has spent a lifetime in politics, and the results have not been good,” she said. “Failure seems to follow Jerry brown everywhere he goes.”

The candidate, who sunk at least $71 million of her vast personal wealth into her campaign, charged that Brown will be beholden to the unions are other special interests that are expected to spend millions on his behalf.

“Here’s the really good news: I don’t owe anyone anything,” Whitman said. “My opponent cannot say that, can he? He has aligned nearly every single interest group in Sacramento against us. And that means favors will be owed to every power broker with a vested interest in keeping our state budget broken, our schools underperforming, and the state pension system spinning into insolvency.”

Whitman said the battle with Brown would be tough, but with the support of voters across the state and of every demographic group, she could do it.

“I am putting my heart and soul into this campaign,” she said. “This gal is on a mission. And I am all in.”

The crowd broke into chants of “Thank you Meg! Thank you Meg!” leaving the candidate giggling on stage.

She ended her message to supporters on an optimistic note, saying that a state that has grown dysfunctional can be returned to its glory days when its schools were the nation’s best and businesses clamored to move here.

“I want Californians to dream big again, don’t you?” she said, before orange and green balloons fell to the ground and sparkly confetti sprayed into the air. “I want our state to be the very best place in the world to raise a family, grow a business, educate our children and pursue life's ambitions. We can make the Golden State golden again.”

Prior to speaking, the campaign played a three-and-a-half minute slide show set to the song “California Soul” that featured pictures of Whitman on the campaign trail, in classrooms, on the coast, in front of a patriotically painted barn, and in a voter’s living room. So-called super volunteers stood behind Whitman, waving California flags and signs that say “Take Back Sac” and hitting thunder sticks together.

-- Seema Mehta in Universal City

Photo: California gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times and Associated Press

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