By Josh Richman
Monday, January 11th, 2010 at 2:22 pm in 2010 governor’s race, Steve Poizner.

When I watched Steve Poizner pitch his platform to the Fremont Chamber of Commerce in early October, he was in third place behind GOP primary rivals Meg Whitman and Tom Campbell.

As he pitched his platform to the Livermore Chamber of Commerce this morning – three months later and another $15 million committed from his own pocket – he’s probably in third place still. But to hear him tell it, he’s got ‘em just where he wants ‘em.

“The polls aren’t really ans issue for us right now because we know most of the state has never heard of me,” he told me after the forum with local business owners – perhaps a difficult admission for one of California’s eight statewide constitutional officers to have to make.

Whitman has spent an “unprecedented, huge sum of money early” on a barrage of radio and television (sorry, my bad) ads to build her name recognition, and that’s why she leads in the polls for now, he said.

But a huge percentage of GOP primary voters – 44 percent, by the Public Policy Institute of California’s numbers early last month – remain undecided.

Poizner meanwhile has been running like a jackrabbit up and down the state doing small-venue meetings like this mornings with chambers of commerce and other community groups to build some from-the-ground-up goodwill and name recognition. He said he’s launching his own TV blitz soon, and he’s confident many of those undecideds – and even some of those saying they support Whitman or Campbell – will rally to his story: a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has taught school, worked on homeland security strategy in the Bush White House, and has “right-sized” one state department already as Insurance Commissioner.

“Meg and I are really different and most people don’t realize that yet,” he said, adding voters have “had enough of celebrities, they’ve had enough of rookies.”

Hmmm. We’ll know for sure in five months.

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