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Whitman campaign team says Brown backers are trying to influence GOP primary voters

February 16, 2010 | 10:53 am

Republican Meg Whitman's campaign team has released its analysis of the radio attack ads launched Tuesday morning by Democrats aiding California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown's nascent bid for governor. The conclusion: the Democratic independent expenditure committee, Level the Playing Field 2010, is targeting Republican primary voters by putting its spot on radio stations that reach conservative audiences.

According to Tucker Bounds, Whitman's spokesman, the ad, criticizing the candidate for her willingness to spend tens of millions of dollars on the race, is an effort to prop up her Republican opponent, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who is trailing in the polls and is in danger of becoming an afterthought. Bounds sent media analysis via one of the campaign's consultants.

"Clearly, Team Brown not only prefers to run against Steve Poizner in the general election, but is taking steps to achieve that with a radio buy targeting Republican primary voters," he wrote to reporters.

It is more likely, however, that the Democrats are hoping to at least keep Poizner, who has millions of dollar to spend of his own, competitive so that he can damage Whitman before the general election, even if he loses.

-- Michael Rothfeld in Sacramento

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