Democrats and Republicans begin squaring off Wednesday as general election season opens in California following hard-fought primary contests – particularly in the GOP – that were finally settled Tuesday.
Republicans gather at 9:30 a.m. at the Hilton in Anaheim for what was billed as a unity breakfast, then expanded to a full-fledged rally. They hope to bring Republicans together behind a slate led by Meg Whitman, the ex-EBay chief who won her party's nod to run for governor against Democratic Atty. Gen Jerry Brown, and Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard, who will take on Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Other Republicans expected include Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who is running for attorney general against Democratic San Francisco Dist. Atty. Kamala Harris, and Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, who was appointed to fill a vacancy by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and is trying to win a full term against San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat.
"All the statewide nominees will be there," said Mark Standriff, the California Republican Party's communications director.
At 9 a.m. the California Nurses Assn., which is working to elect Democrats, will take its "Queen Meg" road show, in which a character costumed as Whitman appears outside events attended by the actual Whitman, a billionaire, to a protest at the hotel. The nurses will introduce a new character.
While the actual Whitman will be "sequestered with insiders," the nurses said in news release, "The beloved Queen Meg of California will mingle with Her public and announce a friendly merger and co-campaign with her fellow Royal CEO, the Princess Carly of California."
Meanwhile, Brown, who easily bested his nominal primary opposition, is scheduled to make what his campaign characterizes as a surprise announcement about the campaign at 10 a.m. at the Los Angeles Athletic Club Hotel.
The Democratic slate is putting together a rally of its own in Fremont on Thursday, when Whitman, who lives in Atherton, appears in Northern California for a "welcome home" event in San Jose.
The campaigns should ramp up in the days ahead. Declaring "Game on" in a news release, Boxer, who also easily beat low-profile primary opponents, announced two new sections on her website aimed at Fiorina after the results rolled in Tuesday night.
One is called "Setting the Record Straight," to dispute the Republican's attacks on her, and the other, "Fiorina Facts," apparently to level attacks of Boxer's own.
--Michael Rothfeld in Sacramento