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Meg Whitman says Jerry Brown 'doesn't care' about the Central Valley

October 29, 2010 |  4:43 pm

Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman swung through the Central Valley on Friday afternoon, seeking to motivate the region’s rich trove of GOP voters and slamming rival Jerry Brown for not paying attention to the area, its high unemployment and the water shortage created by environmental regulations that have caused farmland to go fallow.

Whitman noted that she has visited the region 36 times since she began campaigning while Brown largely avoided it. The Democrat will swing through Stockton, Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield on Saturday.

"It is political expediency. He knows he's got a race that's tightening," Whitman told reporters after speaking at a peach-processing plant in Fresno. "In the eleventh hour, he shows up and tries to pretend he cares and he doesn’t. He hasn't taken a point of view on water; he doesn't understand how important agriculture is to this state. He is not going to bring balance back between environmental regulations and the needs of jobs and people, and I will. He doesn't care about the Central Valley."

A spokesman for Brown, who had no public events unt Friday evening , countered that the candidate had a rich history in the region while Whitman was the newcomer.

"Jerry Brown was born and raised in California, and he's spent more time in the Central Valley than Long Island native Meg Whitman has spent in the state," said Sterling Clifford.

Whitman, who also visited a pumpkin patch in Visalia, painted herself as a "job creator" and Brown as a "job killer." She pledged to turn around the state's dysfunctional capital, close budget gaps, reduce wasteful spending and fix the beleaguered public school system.

"As governor, I’m going to do something that not been done in California politics in a long time -– I’m going to treat you like adults," she told scores of supporters. "I'm going to tell it like it is and I'm going to put forward a plan to get California back on track.

"Let's stop all the rest of the country from looking at California like we're crazy. Let's send a signal to the rest of the United States that the Golden State is the 'comeback state.' "

Although nearly every public poll in recent days and weeks show Brown opening a significant lead over Whitman, the former EBay chief said she believes the race is a dead heat and she feels momentum.

"You have the power to determine the outcome of this election," she said. "So do you want to get California moving again? I'm ready, are you?" The crowd responded, "We are ready! We are ready! We are ready!"

-- Seema Mehta in Fresno

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