Are Brown, Whitman paying too high a price in going negative?

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown were delivering their final pitch to voters Monday. But with the sheer volume of junk mail, negative TV and radio ads, and robo calls, have voters already turned them off? Tom Ish, a Lake of the Pines resident whose daughter is voting for the first time, said he’s encouraging 18-year-old Melissa Ish at a time when voting can be a discouraging proposition. “Our young people need to be engaged and committed to the process,” Ish said. “It’s a part of democracy that can’t be taken for granted.” With the amount of money being spent by individuals and organizations on both sides of the political fence, Ish said his concern is that the common man may have a vote but not a voice in elections. Democrat Jerry Brown kicked off the final day of his campaign at a Los Angeles library Monday with a promise to voters that he would work with lawmakers to solve the state’s financial problems. Republican Whitman was in Woodland Hills, and while trailing in most recent polls, said the momentum was with her and the GOP, which is hoping to make gains nationwide. In Auburn, Fred James said he’s been hit with a barrage of advertisements that have painted both candidates negatively. “What really bothers me is the amount of commercials that seem to me to show Brown and Whitman have a stranglehold on each others’ throats,” James said. “But no one’s talking about us. They should be emphasizing what they can do for the general public.” Both candidates suffered embarrassments during the campaign, with Whitman accused of employing an illegal immigrant and a Brown campaign worker describing his opponent as a “whore.” Public opinion polls have shown Brown is leading Whitman, a billionaire former chief executive of eBay Inc. who has spent nearly $142 million of her personal fortune on her first run for political office. A Field Poll last week showed Brown with a double-digit lead – 49 percent to 39 percent – over Whitman among likely voters. But Whitman and her supporters say they believe the same energy behind Republicans nationwide will result in a GOP sweep in California and overcome a 13 percentage point Democratic voter registration advantage. Auburn voter Greg Barber said he been making his choice for governor amid an outpouring of negative ads from both camps. “We need a better choice between both of them,” Barber said. “As for the advertising, it has been absolutely ridiculous. Rather than slam their opponent, they should voice what they’re going to do. They need to put more positive information out there.” Auburn’s Dave Cox said he was tempted to vote for neither candidate. “But that would be irresponsible to put in ‘None of the above,’” he said. “The hard copy has been atrocious, the advertising is a nuisance and it’s just an oversell.” The Associated Press contributed to this story.