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NEWS ANALYSIS

Whitman on the right, Brown on the left, voters in the middle

Victory for the former EBay chief sets up a battle of political opposites.

June 09, 2010|By Michael Rothfeld, Los Angeles Times

But on other issues, such as law enforcement, Brown is further to the right. He has opposed federal judges' push to release inmates from the state's overcrowded prisons and calls, as Whitman does, for reining in healthcare spending on prisoners. Like many Republicans, Brown says local government should have more power.

In the past, Whitman has appeared socially moderate to liberal on abortion and the environment, donating $300,000 to the Environmental Defense Fund to protect the Delta habitat and taking an Arctic cruise to study global warming. But this year she has framed her positions more conservatively, with an emphasis on helping business.

She has said recently that it is more important to get water flowing to farmers than to take steps to protect endangered fish. And she has proposed delaying the state's global warming law, contending that it would hurt the economy.

Whitman has also suggested putting a moratorium on other government regulations. In her policy agenda, laid out to voters in a glossy 46-page booklet, she says every state agency should identify "any negative impact" of new rules. Brown, on the other hand, has worked to enforce many state regulations, dragging California companies into court on consumer and worker protection issues. And he has blamed Wall Street for the mortgage meltdown and economic crisis that have impoverished many Californians.

And the two differ on one of the mostly highly charged issues of the primary campaign, which Brown largely sat out for lack of a major opponent. Whitman has promised to make it much harder for illegal immigrants to be in California. She opposes amnesty for those here illegally and says she wants tougher enforcement at the border. And she says she'll go after employers who hire undocumented workers.

Brown has avoided using his powers as attorney general to pressure the federal government to enforce immigration laws. In March, he accused Whitman and Poizner of pandering on the issue.

"Yes, protect our border. Yes, enforce the law," Brown said. "[But] I'm not going to scapegoat immigrants and public servants and poor people."

michael.rothfeld@latimes.com

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