By Ken McLaughlin, Steven Harmon and Denis C. Theriault

Bay Area News Group
Posted: 02/28/2010 12:00:00 AM PST

The three people vying to be California’s next governor offer differing styles, levels of political experience and degrees of wealth. Here’s a look at Jerry Brown, the ex-governor who’s running unopposed for the Democratic nomination, and the two Republican hopefuls who are battling for the right to face Brown in November.

Jerry Brown

Experience: Brown, the state’s attorney general, is a former two-term governor, secretary of state, three-time presidential candidate and mayor of Oakland.

Money: He’s raised $13 million — and has spent only $370,000 — but is going to need a lot of help to contend with the Republicans’ self-funding efforts.

Personality: He earned the nickname Governor Moonbeam for what proved to be visionary ideas on satellite technology. While running the state from 1975 to 1983, he was known for dating pop star Linda Ronstadt, riding in a state-issued Plymouth Satellite rather than a limo and renting an apartment instead of living in the governor’s mansion. As Oakland mayor and now as state attorney general, he’s reinvented himself as a tough-on-crime crusader.

Pivot point: The field was cleared for Brown when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom exited the race in October.

Quote: “Her whole theory is that she can buy the mind of California, and whoever fights her will be so small compared to the amount of money that she’s gathered up on Wall Street that she will pulverize any
opposition through the paid takeover of the airwaves.” — On Meg Whitman and the $150 million she’s said she plans to spend in the race.

Steve Poizner

Experience: Poizner is finishing his first term as state insurance commissioner. He founded (and sold for $1 billion) a company that puts GPS chips in smart phones and later served as a volunteer high school teacher in San Jose. He ran unsuccessfully for Assembly in 2004.

Money: His war chest currently tops $17 million, but that’s only because he’s poured in $19 million of his own. But fundraising from outside donors remains, um, slow. His campaign has reported just one contribution of $5,000 or more this year.

Personality: He’s an engineer at heart: wonkish, detailed and results-driven. Associates praise him as a fast learner and fair decision-maker, but some worry he’s too deliberative. The Los Gatos resident also holds a black belt in karate.

Pivot point: Poizner dramatically sicced the feds on Whitman’s campaign for suggesting in an e-mail that he either step aside or face $40 million worth of attack ads. Sure, the move earned Poizner some choice sobriquets — such as “wimp” and “weenie” — for hollering about what, frankly, is politics as usual. But it also added to a chorus of Whitman criticisms, from her heavy spending to her unwillingness to debate.

Quote: “Voters have had it with celebrities, had it with career politicians and had it with rookies.” — Throwing jabs at Whitman for her lack of political pedigree and at Brown, who’s held three statewide offices.

Meg Whitman

Experience: Whitman’s experience is in business, not politics — a fact she intends to use against “career politician” Brown. During her 10 years as CEO of eBay, the online auction house’s revenues grew from $4.7 million to $7.7 billion.

Money: Worth an estimated $1.4 billion, she has written checks for $39 million to her campaign, spending freely on consultants, charter plane trips and commercials. She’s also received more than $10 million from donors, about 20 percent of it from out-of-state corporate executives and venture capitalists; her war chest now tops $30 million.

To read entire story, click here.