Meg Whitman: A New Era in California or Just Opportunistic Politics

Meg WhitmanMeg Whitman Changes her Position on Immigration for Spanish-Language TV/Radio

Meg Whitman’s courting of Hispanic voters in California has recently been garnering a great deal of attention by numerous media outlets. Whitman already made headlines by spending millions of her personal wealth to win the California Republican nomination in June. She followed the June win with an early blitz of anti-Brown television and radio commercials airing in primetime.

Part of Whitman’s blitz has targeted the Latino electorate as she rolled out a number of Spanish-language ads that touted her opposition to Arizona’s SB 1070 and Proposition 187. Whitman seemed supportive of a path to legalization when asked about it in October 2009. She stated, “Can we get a fair program where people stand at the back of the line, they pay a fine, they do some things that would ultimately allow a path to legalization?”

But Whitman’s Spanish-language makeover in the general election is a major shift from the tone that she struck in the GOP primary, when the challenge from conservative Steve Poizner pushed her to the right on the issue. During the primary, she touted her opposition to illegal immigration, screened an ad featuring Pete Wilson and a border fence, and accused Poizner of supporting “amnesty.” Whitman also recently stated on the conservative John & Ken radio show that, “I don’t think we should have blanket amnesty, and I am not for a path to citizenship. I have been very, very clear on that.”

Thus far, Whitman’s bipolar message on immigration has not hurt her in recent polling. Whitman has seen a 14-point gain among Latinos in a July Field Poll, propelled by TV ads, billboards and a Spanish-language website. The latest August Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state finds Brown with 43% support and Whitman earning 41% of the vote. Six percent (6%) prefer another candidate, and 10% are undecided.

Interestingly, Survey USA, another polling agency examining the race, released a poll in July showing Whitman leading Brown by a slight percentage. There is still a lot of time before November and there is likely to be a number of political fireworks in a state as bankrupt and politically dysfunctional as California. One thing that is clear is that to have a shot at winning the California election the gubernatorial candidate must garner a significant percentage of the Latino vote.

“Any Republican running statewide has to get at least one-third of the Latino vote,” said Allan Hoffenblum, a former Republican consultant and publisher of the nonpartisan California Target Book. “Jerry Brown very, very badly needs to aggressively go after that Latino vote.” Brown made his first aggressive push for Latino support on July 8th, during a press conference at Cal State LA in which he was flanked by a number of Latino leaders from the state’s legislature.

At the press conference Brown pointed to some of the immigration stances Whitman took when she was rallying support during the Republican primary. Brown noted that Whitman has said that students who are illegal immigrants should not be allowed to attend public universities. “That’s cruel,” he said. “There’s something really not very human about that.”

Through such campaigning Brown will likely shore up some support among the Latino electorate by November. However, Whitman’s campaign hopes she can effectively straddle the fence around the immigration issue without losing substantial support from either Latinos or conservatives planning to vote in November. Some factors definitely play to her advantage as she campaigns with Lieutenant Gubernatorial candidate Abel Maldonado, a popular Latino businessman who previously worked in the legislature. Whitman will also be the only major right-leaning candidate running for governor on the November ballot.

However, some California conservatives have vowed to stay away in November rather than casting a vote for someone they feel would not act aggressively to curb illegal immigration. Count Raymond Herrera, founder of We The People, California’s Crusader–an anti-illegal immigration group, is a voter who won’t cast a ballot for Whitman due to her immigration stance. She says, ‘I’m against amnesty,’ but she also says, ‘I’m against S.B. 1070,'” said Herrera. “She doesn’t care about illegal immigrants coming into California. She just cares about becoming governor . . . It’s impossible to be on both sides of the political line on this issue.

wais hassanHerrera may have a point, as Whitman could be another political opportunist willing to do and say anything to gain power. Her lack of a voting record supports such a conclusion. Furthermore, her advisors did a poor job attempting to explain Whitman’s inconsistency. Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei argued that when Whitman stated she was for ‘a path to legalization’ she never meant ‘citizenship’. Pompei states that Whitman was, “talking about a temporary guest worker program. She supports a comprehensive solution that secures the borders first and includes a temporary guest worker program. What she said today is entirely consistent with what she has said before.” Both sides of the immigration debate will need some clarity on her exact policy positions before casting their vote in November.

Wais Hassan

Wais Hassan joined the Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) team in April 2010 as the Government Relations intern. He studied public policy issues, including immigration reform, while completing a Master’s of Public Administration from USC in 2008. Prior to this internship in DC, Wais worked in the California legislature as a legislative aide for Assemblymember Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana).


  1. Benito says

    In the last four months Jan Brewer has been caught lying, three times and counting.

    The comments made on June 16, 2010, and June 27, 2010, clearly indicates that the Brewer says that immigrants are beheading people in the United States desert. She first ran away from the question and the press when confronted with the question. She finally when to FOX/ FAKE News to recant her lie.

    When Brewer was confronted with the fact the two of her top Advisors (Paul Senseman, Chuck Coughlin) are lobbyist for “Private Prisons” giant CCA she first ran away from the question and the press.

    In an attempt to gain sympathy, she first said her father had died in Germany fighting the Nazi in World War II (which ended 1945) but of course we find out the truth that her father was never in Germany and died in California in 1955. Do you see a trend here?

    Brewer signed into law SB 1070 Bill (Did she even read it?), lied about the crime rates in AZ (even Janet Napolitano knows that all crimes rates went down), and now we find out that she is in the pockets of PRIVATE PRISONS who stand to benefit with the increase Federal jailing, and thus they will pay her back, I wonder if it has to do anything about the fact that her son was transferred to a brand new prison, he was convicted for rape and sexual assault, I guess the fruit does not fall far the tree.

    “Private Prisons Lie”

    “AZ Crime Rates”

    “Father Lie”

  2. Benito says

    JS: The most outrageous racial profile law was AZ SB1070, the one that failed in our US Courts that the proponents claimed was Constitutional. Considering that all the numbers of crime are down (even ex-governor Janet Napolitano agrees).

    So we have Brewer signing a bill (that she probably did not even read), lying about the crime rates in AZ, and now we find out that she is in the pockets of PRIVATE PRISONS who stand to benefit with the increase Federal jailing.

    So quit lying, with your pathelic rhetoric, stand up and be men, no, no I am sorry your leaders are now just Birthers, Baggers and Blowhards and will contine to take the GOP towards obscurity because they are no longer a party of ideas, just of empty suits. Good bye, fawell….

    • Andy says

      I’m sorry you seem to think it’s ok to be here illegally. But it is illegal. I don’t care where you come from illegally but it’s not fair. End of story. There’s really no argument to be made here. Before you complain about being profiled, read the law. It says you can only be pullled over and checked for a reason.

  3. Jeannette Smith says

    Illegal immigration should be stopped, period!! Illegals from Mexico are not the educated class — they are the lower class, uneducated. They bring with them crime, drugs, lower-wage jobs, and a lower quality of living.

    To keep the American standards high, they should just not be here — period. I am sorry for the conditions in your own country, but with the drug cartels raking in close to $20Billion per year, it’s the problem of Mexico and Central America.

    Americans also, should not be hypocritical and travel to Mexico. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Illegals are not welcome here — they degrade our standard of living that Americans have worked so hard for — they take jobs away from our youth — they should not be here, nor their children. Sorry.

    Go home to Mexico and Central America. You are not our problem.

  4. Benito says

    The Republicans are so funny, when the economy is good you say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. When most Americans (with Latin America roots) go to the polls this November we will remember that the GOP has gone on a nationwide rant in proposing and passing several anti-immigration legislation and have continue to blame the immigrant for the flat economy or worse. We will remember who stands with us and who stands against us, so trying to stop it now is somewhat funny, but go ahead, you will not change our minds. Is does not help that the GOP has recently attacked the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Your hate made you do it, in November; you will reap what you have sown.

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