Gubernatorial race all about the money

October 5, 2009 8:07:56 PM PDT
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is getting some much needed high-level help in his run for governor.

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Former President Bill Clinton returned a political favor Monday. Gavin Newsom supported Hillary Clinton in her bid for the White House and Bill Clinton is supporting Newsom.

"Gavin Newsom has walked the walk he just doesn't talk about it," Clinton said.

"It's a big deal to have President Clinton's support at any time in a campaign it's an even bigger deal in a democratic primary this early," Newsom said.

Whether the former president can or will raise enough cash to keep Newsom competitive with front runner state Attorney General Jerry Brown is yet to be seen, but Monday was the beginning.

On the Republican side former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has millions of dollars she can spend. So does former Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Poizner.

But it is how they spent their money on other candidates in years past that is making headlines.

In 2003 Whitman gave the maximum $4,000 contribution to Sen. Barbara Boxer's re-election campaign and publicly endorsed Boxer.

Steve Poizner's campaign is pouncing that.

"And the facts are Barbara Boxer consistently ranks as one of the most liberal senators in Congress," Poizner campaign spokesperson Jarrod Agen said.

While Poizner's media people try to tar Whitman for endorsing a liberal Democrat, Whitman's campaign is pointing to Poizner's past; specifically $21,000 in contributions to Al Gore's presidential campaign and the Democratic efforts to fund the Florida recount.

"I would tell Commissioner Poizner that he should reconsider his campaign strategy if he thinks he's going to be run away from three different checks to Al Gore's recount effort," Whitman campaign spokesperson Tucker Bounds said.

The two richest candidates are going after each other over campaign contributions made in 2000 and 2003. Nine months from now will Republican voters care?

Jamie Fisfis thinks so. He is press secretary to Republican Tom Campbell, who is also running for governor, but without a personal fortune.

"Well the issue with these contributions is credibility," Campbell campaign spokesperson Jamie Fisfis said. "And when the candidates say they've been proud Republicans, proud conservatives and they see these contributions to Gore and Boxer, their credibility is put into question and it's very damaging to them."

When Poizner ran for state insurance commissioner, his contributions to Gore did not haunt him.

Whitman can remind voters of the checks to Gore, but she is vulnerable on the same issue with her contributions to Boxer.

ABC7 did check on past contributions by Campbell, Newsom and Brown -- they stuck to their own party.

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