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June 1, 2010 > Republicans spending furiously in Calif. gov race

Republicans spending furiously in Calif. gov race

By Juliet Williams, Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP), May 28 _ Billionaire Meg Whitman has $3.8 million cash on hand after spending nearly $34 million in the last two months in a frenetic race for the Republican nomination for governor, while her rival, multimillionaire Steve Poizner, spent $17 million in that time, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday.

The reports show the former eBay chief executive has spent more than $60 million this year, mostly from her personal fortune.

Poizner, the state insurance commissioner who has trailed Whitman for months, saved most of his spending for an aggressive advertising campaign in the final weeks before the June 8 primary. He has spent $20.5 million this year and has about $3 million left.

Neither is likely to run short of cash.

Whitman has given her campaign $68 million since last year, while Poizner, a multimillionaire, has given his campaign $24 million. Whitman has also outpaced Poizner in outside fundraising, collecting almost $3.8 million in the two-month period reported to the Secretary of State's office on Thursday, while Poizner raised less than $400,000 from outside sources.

Meanwhile, Democrat Jerry Brown, who faces no serious challenger for his party's nomination, is saving money for what will be an expensive general election. He reported Thursday that he has $20.6 million.

Brown, the state attorney general and former governor, reported Thursday that his campaign has raised nearly $7 million in the past two months, including $2.2 million from the state Democratic Party, and spent about $260,000.

Whitman has a highly paid roster of Republican consultants, including her chief strategist Mike Murphy, who is paid $90,000 a month. Thursday's report also shows her campaign has paid Dallas-based media consultants Scott Howell & Company $335,000 in the last two months. The firm has a strong record of electing GOP candidates, sometimes using controversial ads.

Whitman's early advertising helped her build an early 50-point lead over Poizner, but a recent poll shows her lead has shrunk to 9 percentage points after attacks from Poizner for her failure to support Arizona's immigration law, her ties to embattled Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs and her poor voting record.

While Whitman and Poizner have relied on their own personal wealth, unions representing electrical workers, engineers, teachers and other labor groups were by far Brown's largest donors. Some of the groups were mobilizing separate campaign committees to operate on his behalf.

His campaign has spent just $400,000 so far this year.

Brown also reported returning $1,000 to Federico Buenrostro Jr., a former official with the California Public Employees Retirement System. Brown's office sued Buenrostro for fraud earlier this month. Buenrostro denied the allegations.

Brown also returned $1,000 to Carrissa Villalobos, the daughter of Alfred Villalobos, a former member of the pension board who is accused of awarding kickbacks to people who helped steer investments from the pension fund to his firm. Alfred Villalobos denied the accusations.

Brown returned $5,000 in all to five other Villalobos associates, according to his filing with the secretary of state's office.

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