Political Notebook

California GOP looks to 2010 governor’s race

Candidate Meg Whitman, former eBay chief executive, spoke at a news conference in Indian Wells, Calif. Candidate Meg Whitman, former eBay chief executive, spoke at a news conference in Indian Wells, Calif. (Francis Specker/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / September 28, 2009

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - California Republicans at a weekend convention reflected on the battered party’s future and debated a plan of attack for 2010, when they hope to capitalize on antitax protests and growing national conservative anger over President Obama’s health care proposals.

Most of the attention during the three-day convention at a resort in Indian Wells, near Palm Springs, was on the three GOP gubernatorial candidates: former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, and Tom Campbell, former five-term representative.

They sought to contrast their Republican credentials with somber messages that contrasted with the flashier tenure of the man they’re hoping to succeed, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose term ends in 2011.

The moderate GOP governor has never been well-liked among the party stalwarts who dominate such conventions.

During a brief address Friday night, Schwarzenegger mentioned the landmark global warming law he signed in 2006. Many Republicans oppose the law to curb greenhouse gas emissions because they say it will be too costly for businesses.

In a jab at Schwarzenegger and other moderates, Poizner on Saturday night urged delegates not to let outsiders sway the direction of the party.

“When people come in here and tell you we need to move the Republican Party to the center, that is wrong,’’ he said to loud cheers.

Campbell and Whitman have proposed massive spending cuts to bring California’s budget in line, although Whitman has declined to say where she would find the $15 billion in cuts she proposed.

Poizner is pushing a proposal to lower nearly all the state’s taxes, but he has been unable to say how much that would cost the state or how much he hopes to generate through the increased growth he says that would spur.

Meanwhile, the Republican race to challenge liberal stalwart Barbara Boxer for her US Senate seat next year also gained momentum this weekend after Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, announced she is exploring a run. She would face a socially conservative state lawmaker, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, in the GOP primary.

Bill Clinton says Democrats won’t suffer losses of ’94
Former president Clinton predicted yesterday that Democrats won’t suffer the kind of political meltdown that hobbled his administration after the 1994 elections.

Democrats lost control of the House for the first time in 40 years after those elections. Republicans are forecasting that kind of backlash next year against the Democrats.

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,’’ Clinton suggested that was wishful thinking by the GOP. He said the nation today is more diverse and more interested in positive action.