Poizner remains upbeat about debating Whitman

February 18, 2010 8:02:30 PM PST
Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman have agreed to debate in the Republican race for governor. Thursday, Poizner told ABC7 that he will face Whitman in Orange County on March 15. It will be the first time, by the way, that they have met in a debate.

Behind in the polls and being heavily outspent in political advertising, Poizner remains upbeat about his race against Whitman. ABC7's political reporter Mark Matthews caught up with him Thursday morning at the airport as he was waiting to catch a flight to Washington D.C.

"I want to implement some conservative reforms that will get our economy back on track," said Poizner.

Poizner wants to cut all taxes for everyone by 10 percent.

"Ten percent cut in personal income taxes, sales taxes, corporate taxes, and a 50 percent cut in capital gains taxes," said Poizner.

Poizner is convinced cutting taxes will spur the economy and increase revenues to the state.

"So even though the tax rates are lower, more tax revenues will flow into Sacramento. That's an essential part of my strategy to balancing the budget," said Poizner.

Like Whitman, Poizner supports a hiring freeze on state employees and what he terms "smart cutting."

"I became insurance commissioner three years ago. I went through every dollar spent by this $200 million agency and I've been able to shrink my department, my operating budget, by 15 percent by doing this top-down review, this modernization," said Poizner.

Poizner and Whitman both say welfare rolls must be cut. He takes a hard line on immigration.

"Illegal immigrants are overwhelming our educational and our healthcare systems our welfare systems," said Poizner.

He departs from Whitman's on the state's newly minted water bond proposal. Whitman supports it, Poizners said it is too full of pork.

"We just can't afford to be issuing even more debt that's not being spent very wisely," said Poizner.

Poizner also said he has got the money to compete with Whitman, even though she has said she is willing to spend $150 million of her own.

"She really wants to buy the race. She's not going to be able to do that though, the Republican primary base, they get to pick who the Republican nominee going to be and I feel extremely well positioned here," said Poizner.

ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain disagrees and Matthews sat down with him in Berkeley Thursday afternoon and he said the fix is in.

"The establishment of the Republican Party has put all its chips on Meg Whitman," said Cain.

Cain said Poizner is running against Whitman and his party's establishment.

"And Poizner no doubt is being told 'Well look if you take the bullet on this one then they'll be something down the road that we'll support you for, but if you don't then we'll just go after you every single time.' That's probably what they're going to say to him or that will be the implicate threat," said Cain.

Cain calls that kind of back room dealing the invisible primary. He said Poizner's best hope is the Republican establishment will sour on Whitman or that there will be a grass roots rebellion in the party. At this point, both of those appear to be long shots.