Political Flashback: Meg Whitman, labor unions wasted little time launching attack ads
With the California governor's race in its final hours, PolitiCal will look back throughout the day at some of the key moments in this year's historic contest for governor and some of the other races on the November ballot.
Just days after the end of the most expensive Republican primary in state history, pitting billionaire Meg Whitman against multimillionaire Steve Poizner, Whitman trained her campaign fire on Democrat Jerry Brown, launching a 60-second spot painting Brown as a political relic of a bygone era.
Through a stylized montage that moves through Brown's four decades in California politics, Whitman makes reference to the death penalty and Bill Clinton to make the case against Brown. The ad uses a clip from a debate between Brown and Clinton when the two men ran against each other for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992. In the clip, Clinton says Brown "reinvents himself every year or two." Whitman campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said the spot was a response to an ad launched last week by a consortium of labor unions and other Brown supporters attacking Whitman's poor voting record.
While Brown himself laid low, his union backers coalesced to launch television ads of their own. A group called California Working Families 2010 was determined not to allow Whitman to have the airwaves to herself throughout the summer.
Brown had vowed to sit on his political war chest until Labor Day, knowing full well that his union backers would pick up the slack in the dog days of summer. Although Whitman is on the air with a new spot talking about her campaign platform, a notable departure from many of the negative ads that marked her primary with Poizner, this new ad goes on the attack. It focuses on Whitman's poor voting record and includes clips from a news conference in which she answered questions about her spotty voting history.
California Working Families became the heart of what Whitman's campaign derisively labeled "Jerry Brown Inc." Independent groups spent more than $25 million on Brown's behalf during the five months of the general election campaign.
-- Anthony York in Sacramento
Photo: Republican candidate for governor, Meg Whitman addresses supporters during her campaign swing Monday, Nov. 1, 2010 in Costa Mesa. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Ana Venegas)