News & Election Videos

November 10, 2008

Golden State Gov Race Begins

Thought the campaigning was over? Think again. The battle to head the country's most populous state has already begun, with several candidates taking first steps toward replacing term-limited California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Steve Poizner, the Golden State's first-term insurance commissioner, has been the most prominent candidate for governor so far. The Republican formed an exploratory committee in September and is the early front-runner on his side of the aisle. Former Republican Congressman Tom Campbell has also set up an initial committee, while businesswoman Meg Whitman has hired former John McCain chief strategist Steve Schmidt for her own possible run, the Los Angeles Times reported today.

On the Democratic side, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom have formed early committees. It would be Garamendi's third run for governor since 1982, while Newsom would position himself as the champion of the left in his first bid for statewide office. Former Governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown has told friends he wants the job back, the Times reports, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- who is expected to cruise to re-election in March -- is also said to be contemplating a bid.

The candidate the Times calls the "wild card" is Dianne Feinstein, the 75-year old former San Francisco mayor who is thinking about a second run for her state's top job after losing her first run for the post in 1990. Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, would have to give up a prominent position in Washington for the top post in Sacramento. Feinstein's Senate seat isn't up until 2012.

Feinstein isn't the only member of Congress contemplating a bid. Way back in 2005, Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez opened her own exploratory committee for governor.