James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Created: 10/27/2010 07:42:58 PM PDT

Photo gallery: Meg Whitman campaigns in Rancho Cucamonga

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – Down to the final week of her campaign for governor, Republican candidate Meg Whitman stopped here Wednesday evening to rally voters and get them to vote on Nov. 2.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in the next six days,” Whitman told a few hundred supporters at Etiwanda Gardens. “I’m fighting for votes in every part of the state.”

Whitman asked voters to fill out their absentee ballots, go to the polls next week and to “think about everything you can do to get out the vote for me and the whole Republican ticket.”

Indeed, events this close to the election aren’t aimed at convincing voters – they’re about making sure voters turn out, said Tony Quinn, a political observer and co-editor of the California Target Book, which analyzes political races in the state.

“That would explain why she’s there, and it’s probably a smart thing for her to be there,” Quinn said. “It’s all about generating turnout.”

Including Wednesday’s event, Whitman campaign spokesman Darrel Ng said Whitman has visited San Bernardino County – the fifth largest county in the state – 16 times since she started her campaign.

Many of those events were private fundraisers, but she’s also held several public events. In March, Whitman toured the San Bernardino manufacturing plant of Cannon Safe Inc.; in July, she spoke to employees at Mag Instruments in Ontario; in February and again earlier this month, she attended NASCAR events at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

Whitman, who spoke in Riverside early Wednesday afternoon, said she will need lots of Republican turnout in the Inland Empire to win on Nov. 2.

“It’s incredibly important,” she said in Rancho Cucamonga . “This should be a Republican county. … We need to win here and win big.”

In the past few gubernatorial elections, “San Bernardino and Riverside counties have not had high turnout,” Quinn said. “That has been a Republican problem.”

In the 2006 gubernatorial election, 47.7 percent of registered San Bernardino County voters showed up at the polls – well below the statewide average of 56.2 percent.

Because the Inland Empire has traditionally been a Republican stronghold and because area turnout has been low in past elections, Quinn said the Whitman campaign likely believes “there are Republican voters to be mined in those two counties.”

Meanwhile, Democratic candidate and current state Attorney General Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr. has been in San Bernardino County only once this year. That visit, which came in San Bernardino a few weeks before Brown officially announced his candidacy, was in his capacity as attorney general – he and District Attorney Michael A. Ramos were announcing charges in the San Bernardino County corruption probe.

The Brown campaign did not return calls for comment.

Ron Wall, chairman of the San Bernardino County Democratic Party, said he’s surprised that Brown hasn’t campaigned in the county.

But Wall also said he “can’t fault (Brown) too much. When you look at the polls, he seems to have run a smart campaign – he’s spent much less, but he’s still ahead in the polls.”

The most recent USC/Los Angeles Times poll showed Brown leading Whitman 52 percent to 39 percent among likely voters.

Whitman on Wednesday called that poll “bunk” and said Brown’s absence from San Bernardino County is a sign of a arrogance.

“He probably can’t find San Bernardino County on a map,” Whitman said. “Jerry Brown is phoning this election in. He’s not campaigning. He’s expecting to be appointed next week. I’m working to be elected.”

To read entire story, click here.