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A battle to the finish

Candidates claw for votes in state's tightest races in decades

November 02, 2010|By Cathleen Decker, Los Angeles Times

Closing out their campaigns with emotion and heart, candidates for California's political offices barnstormed across the state Monday, bolstering both supporters and the legions of volunteers whose entreaties to voters may spell the difference in this volatile election season.

Democratic candidates held joint rallies, including one in downtown Los Angeles. Republicans visited party offices where workers pleaded with the undecided and made sure all voters knew the location of their polling places.

The drama was driven by the closest California campaigns in decades, as national enthusiasm among Republicans cut into the traditional Democratic tilt of the state. Pre-election polls showed several tight contests.

The candidates in the major contests differed by politics and experience.

The Democratic candidates for the top two seats were grizzled veterans. Gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown was seeking a return to the office he left, after two terms, in 1983. Senate nominee Barbara Boxer was seeking her fourth term.

The Republican nominees were two former business leaders making their first bids for elective office. Former EBay chief Meg Whitman poured $141.5 million of her own money into the campaign, the most of any candidate in any race anywhere. Former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina kept a ragged pace throughout the campaign.

The Senate candidates on Monday reflected the national tinge of the statewide election.

"We've got to keep moving forward with jobs and aid to our small businesses and a clean energy future," Boxer told a crowd gathered outside the Central Library in Los Angeles. "Our opponents have a different goal — it is to take us back to those old Bush economic policies, the same old Wall Street mentality that transformed a thriving economy into the great recession."

Her opponent, Fiorina, blasted Boxer as emblematic of the wrong turn taken by Democrats as they asserted control over Congress and the White House.

"Everything she's ever done is about taxing more and spending more and borrowing more and regulating more," she said in Elk Grove. "And people are figuring out that's not working. It's not putting people back to work."

Also on the ballot Tuesday are other statewide offices, legislative seats and nine ballot measures. Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Secretary of State Debra Bowen warned voters to bring mail-in ballots to the polls.

"If you have it and it's not in the mail already, please don't mail it," she said.

cathleen.decker@latimes.com

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