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It's Brown vs. Whitman for California Governor

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The primaries are over. Jerry Brown up against what most media treated as "no one" got only 84 of the Democratic vote, and Meg Whitman up against many tenacious rivals got 64 percent of hers. But they effectively face a level playing field in the attempt to convince all Californians that they can help rescue our troubled state come next year.

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Brown is already trying to hit at Whitman "from the right"--on fiscal management matters compared to his record during his last stint as Cali's governor, based on her career as and eBay executive and on her campaign spending. As the L.A. Times reports:

"She talks about waste and abuse," Brown told reporters at a morning news conference in downtown Los Angeles. "She paid herself $120 million, and then EBay had to lay off 10% of its workforce. Now, is that waste and abuse? Is that what you want?"...

"Whitman only has a history of spending money wildly to get whatever she wants," Brown said. "I have a history of reining in my desire to get this or get that, or spend this, in the campaign or the government."

Brown cast his tenure as governor from 1975 to 1983 as proof he could impose the kind of austerity that California needs to recover from its fiscal crisis.... "When I was governor of California, we built up the largest surplus in history -- $4.5 billion. We created 1.9 million jobs. We reduced taxes by billions, OK?"

The L.A. Times Michael Rothfeld lays out the differences between the two candidates:

Whitman, 53, proposes scaling back state pensions, making employees work longer before they can collect retirement pay and cutting 40,000 state jobs. She says she would also cut costs by improving computer technology, capping state spending and curbing debt....

Her fiscal agenda is familiar. Like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, she proposes to save money by finding fraud in social programs serving the old, disabled, unemployed and poor; paring redundant agencies; and reducing lifetime limits for welfare. But in such efforts she would face a hostile, Democrat-controlled Legislature that is not required to take orders from a chief executive.

Brown, 72, was known as a tight-fisted governor from 1975 to 1983. He believed in "limits," which translated to a lack of investment in the roads, universities and other infrastructure that his father, Pat Brown, had built as governor before him.

He has been vague about how he would tame the budget, but as governor and in this race, his biggest allies have been the public employee unions whose agendas include preserving big, expensive healthcare and social service programs. Yet he says he would slow the growth of social programs.

Jerry Brown gave a long, revealing interview on his thoughts about California's past, present, and future to Los Angeles magazine.

A press release I received today from the SEIU, the Service Empoyees International Union, blames Whitman for alienating Latino voters; Reason magazine, where I work, blames the SEIU for a big part of California's fiscal troubles.

The full results from yesterday's election.

Image by Flickr user Clinton Steeds. Used under user Creative Commons license.

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