WatchSonoma Watch

Gloves come off in Brown-Whitman debate

Moderator Tom Brokaw introduced gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown Tuesday evening at the last of three debates to be held before the Nov. 2 election. The event was held at Dominican University of California in San Rafael. KENT PORTER/PD


SAN RAFAEL — Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown attacked each other’s policies, positions and high-profile campaign gaffes Tuesday at the third and final gubernatorial debate.

“It’s not just me, it’s the people of California who deserve better than slurs,” Whitman said, criticizing Brown for an aide who was infamously recorded apparently calling Whitman a whore. “It’s not befitting of the office that you’re running for.”

Brown apologized, but later lashed back at Whitman’s own recent embarrassment — disclosure she fired her housekeeper after nine years of service after learning she was an undocumented immigrant. After such a long relationship Whitman didn’t even get the woman a lawyer, he said. It was “kind of a sorry tale,” he said.

Brown also laid into Whitman’s plans to cut the state’s capital gains taxes, saying that it would mostly benefit those making more than $500,000, including Whitman, the billionaire former eBay executive. He challenged her to say how much she would reap from such a move. Whitman, though, said that slashing the tax was key to making California competitive again.

“It’s a tax on jobs, it’s a tax on job creators and it’s a tax on investments,” she said. “We are not competitive with neighboring states.”

Veteran newsman Tom Brokaw moderated the event, despite arriving on crutches. His injury, he said, was a metaphor for California’s health.

“We’re both broken at the moment,” he told the crowd at host Dominican University. “The difference is I hope to be repaired by the first of the year.”

Whitman played up her credentials as an executive and “job creator” in facilitating the state’s recovery, saying that in Silicon Valley, leaders use innovation and technology to find new solutions to problems. In Sacramento, they just hunker down and do what they always do, an approach that Brown, a perennial politician, personifies, she said.

“It will be the same old, same old” if Brown is governor, she said.

Brown said his two terms as governor meant he could take the heat of the job, though he promised he would do thing differently, beginning with immediately calling the Legislature to Sacramento work on the next budget.

Both candidates espoused the need for public pension reform. Brown proposed a two-tier system, where future hires receive less generous benefits. Whitman said public employees need retirement plans similar to 401k offered by business, though she said police and fire officials should continue to receive defined benefits.

The debate was a key opportunity to reach the roughly one in five voters still undecided as the campaign winds down. Absentee voting stated across California last week.

It was hard to judge the winner. Victoria Escalada, for one, saw only losers. The Dominican freshmen entered the debate saying she was on the fence and left saying she didn’t want to support either, accusing both of spending the night insulting each other and avoiding direct answers.

“I’m mad about both of them,” she said.

Her friend, Jahaila Canton, a sophomore, said she hadn’t heard anything that changed her mind. She entered slightly supporting Brown and left the same way, though it was hardly emphatic. She said both dodged issues.

“I disliked her more than I didn’t like him,” she said.

Not all the candidates for governor were present, though in some cases, not for lack of trying. There are six official candidates for the state’s top executive including Laura Wells, the Green Party’s representative. She was detained and later cited and released after trying to enter the debate hall before the face-off started.

The top 5 percent of society’s wealth holders need to pay more taxes, she had said earlier. “They’re not creating jobs,” she said. “They’re creating a disparity of wealth.”

Wells had been part of a vocal group of hundreds protestors and supporters who leaned against the event barricades yelling one slogan after another.

“It’s curious,” said Sister Patricia Simpson, one of the Dominican nuns who live next to the hillside campus as she listened to the ruckus. “Tranquility is more the norm here.”

8 Responses to “Gloves come off in Brown-Whitman debate”

  1. Joan Geary says:

    Come on admit it, you really don’t want to vote for a has been, over the hill, life time politican, Jerry B.

    Despite what you have heard, Meg Whitman is a nice person and she was a good boss. Meg will deliver for California, something that hasn’t happened for years.

    If you really like same o same o, Brownie
    is your man. More lethargic, stagnated economic no growth, more unemployment and more jobs fleeing the state.

    Brownie, not this time.

  2. Frank says:

    @Robert Plantz
    She stuck to her plan to cut capital gains taxes, which benefit only the rich.

    Not true robert
    cutting Capital gains would help middle income too, selling your house for instance
    Democrat Jerry Brown Lt governer what has he done with this post NAaadaaaa

    chad for Meg

  3. Gary Ward says:

    Meg Whitman is a smart, well educated dymamic woman with proven leadership skills. Whitman is not beholden to any special interest group. She is financing her own campaign.

    She has been called vile names by her opponent and she has not returned the favor. She has run an upbeat campaign and she won her last debate with her opponent hands down.

    Brown has no programs, except I used to be governor and I liked the job. He can only sling mud and innuendo. In a way it is very sad to see a long serving politican stoop to this level.

    Lets get California going again with someone who can actually provider leadership in this economic crisis and begin to build our business sector creating private sector jobs.

    We need a serious hard working leader to head the state government.

    Whether you work in government or in the private sector, vote for Whitman. California needs leadership more than ever.

  4. VoteOutWoolsey says:

    I hate to say it, but I think Jerry Brown won the last debate.

    As a side note, if you aren’t really impressed with either of the major candidates for Lt. Governor (Gavin Newsom and Abel Maldonado), then I strongly suggest that you consider voting for Karen England who is a Republican running as a write-in candidate. She’s picked up the endorsements of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Gun Owners of California, and former state Senator Tim Leslie. You can learn more about her campaign at http://www.karenenglandforcalifornia.com

  5. Robert Plantz says:

    We who work in the public sector are part of the “people of California.” We provide state services (DMV, university professors, road construction/maintenance, fire fighting, etc., etc.) and we pay our fair share of taxes. We deserve a leader who works for all of us, not just the private sector.

    “Special interests” is a meaningless term. I consider multimillionaires/billionaires to be a special interest group just as much as, say, teachers or police.

    As for “mud slinging,” that is also in the eye of the beholder. The ads from both sides distort the facts to make the other side look bad. And they both resort of name calling, like \Governor Moonbeam.\

    My take on the two debates I’ve seen (1 and 3), is that Whitman is a cold, ruthless businesswoman who thinks that only the rich deserve to have power, and Brown cares about serving the needs of ordinary people, especially the poor and disadvantaged. The reason that Whitman is so popular is that bad economic times bring out the worst in us. We look for scapegoats, and the poor and disadvantaged are a much easier target. If elected, she will certainly make their lives even worse.

  6. Richard Dugan says:

    Governor Brown had to be on the offense since this non-voting peculiar Meg has been slamming him with false advertising for the past ten months. In fact she has spent more money than any politician in the history of California and most of it has been for false advertisements with incorrect information about Governor Brown. I certainly hope we have learned our lesson about dirty politics from the Tricky Dick Nixon and W years of Republican misinformation. Brown is the only clear choice we have for a decent leader.Let this person from Massachusetts know she can not buy our vote or depend on our ignorance to take over our State.

  7. Robert Plantz says:

    Whitman showed her true colors when she referred to state workers, including CSU faculty, as “rank and file.” In other words, commoners, in her view. She needs to continue better pension benefits for police and prison guards in order to protect her monarchy. As for other commoners, “let them eat cake.”

    She stuck to her plan to cut capital gains taxes, which benefit only the rich. There is no evidence that this would create jobs. See http://www.10taxquestions.com/articles.php?aid=7 for an explanation of this issue.

  8. Mary says:

    When you don’t have any programs or solutions to the state’s budget, economic and jobs crisis you fall back to name calling and mud slinging. That is exactly what Brown has done in his quest for governor again.

    Brown has been part of the problem not part of the solution to California’ financal crisis for years from his two terms as Governor Moonbean to his inept current term as Attorney General.

    It is time for solutions to our State’s financial crisis, not more of the Brown’s “been there, done it, got the tee shirt approach.” Jerry, the tee shirt is faded, doesn’t fit anymore and the slogan on it is out of touch.

    We need a real leader with new ideas who will work for the people of California, not the public sector unions and special interests. Vote Meg Whitman.