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20 October 2010

California governorship

Meg Whitman (R) v Jerry Brown (D)

By Rob Higson

Much press attention has focused in the Golden State on the Boxer-Fiorina battle for the Senate. However, the Republican candidate for governor, Meg Whitman, has also attracted a significant press profile and is one to watch in this close-run state.

Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay, is up against Jerry Brown, Democratic governor of California from 1975-83 and current attorney general.

Whitman, who reportedly had never voted until recently, has put more than $110m of her own money into the race.

She came under scrutiny when it was revealed she had employed a housekeeper who was an illegal immigrant.

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In a state with unemployment significantly above the national average, effective stewardship of the economy, creation of jobs and the public school system are all major issues.

Brown, 72, has sought to portray Whitman as an outsider (she moved to California in the early 1980s) whose policies would leave thousands of public-sector workers out of a job and whose proposals to eliminate capital gains tax would leave an economic black hole.

Brown, a rival to Bill Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992, is edging ahead in the polls.

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Next race: Pennsylvania – Senate