Meg's Booklet: The November Edition

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The gubernatorial campaign of Meg Whitman has a new edition of their much publicized (and probably very expensive) policy booklet ready for the fall election. And while it's being marketed as a more targeted look at her plan to create jobs, what it rewrites -- and leaves out -- from the first edition feels like another sign of a pivot from a partisan primary to a broader general election contest.

"I've had a jobs plan in front of Californians since March," says the e-mailed press release from Whitman. "I've laid out a specific road map to create 2 million good private sector jobs. Getting Californians back to work is the only way out of the economic mess we're in."

And as that statement hints, the jobs plan in this new booklet (PDF) is the same one she's been touting since her successful campaign for the GOP nomination. It includes her call for a number of tax credits (some of which, as we've reported earlier, raise a few questions), and it promises a more business friendly California state government. In the latter category, Whitman continues to call for a moratorium on new regulations, a new required cost-benefit analysis on regulations, and more work on the state's workers compensation insurance system. Again, that info is all verbatim from her earlier campaign booklet.

But turn to the section regarding the state's landmark climate change law and you start to see a bit of a change.

The two booklets spend about equal time discussing AB 32 (174 words now versus 189 back in the spring edition). But the new version drops some of the more strident rhetoric in the first edition.

Here's the old version on AB 32's economic impact:

A recent study conducted by the Business School Dean of California State University, Sacramento estimated that AB 32 would cost California businesses more than $100 billion to implement and
would destroy one million jobs. The state simply cannot afford this economic cost, which could reach $50,000 on average for small businesses.

That passage has been deleted and replaced with the following:

Recent studies have shown that AB 32 will have an impact on California jobs and that further economic analysis is needed to measure the true impact of the law’s implementation on our state’s economy.

The study mentioned in the Spring 2010 Whitman mailer has been the subject of intense debate, with many AB 32 supporters and even some other academics questioning the validity of its conclusions.

Whitman, who supports a suspension of the 2006 law, has also toned down some of her anti-AB 32 rhetoric. Compare the old booklet:

To ensure California's climate change law does not become a dangerous job-killer, Meg has called for a one-year moratorium on specific AB 32 regulations.

...with the new version:

To ensure California's climate change law does not become an obstacle to job creation, Meg has called for a one-year moratorium on specific AB 32 regulations.

Campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds says that the important thing here is that Whitman's stance on AB 32 "hasn't changed a single bit."

Again, the Whitman campaign is billing the new booklet as focused on jobs; as such, it leaves out her earlier brochure's discussion of her agenda on education issues. But it also leaves out another section that some could argue is a jobs issue -- at least to Republicans. And one which is being talked about a lot this week: immigration.

After all, the new document reprints her position on fixing the state's water woes -- ostensibly because it's an economic issue -- so why no discussion of illegal immigrants and their impacts on the economy?

The original Whitman booklet lays out her opposition to sanctuary cities, her opposition to undocumented students being admitted to California's colleges and universities, and her opposition to bilingual education programs.

Whitman spokesman Bounds says the candidate doesn't deny that there's "overlay" on the issues of immigration and the economy but that it's not a "central tenet" of her proposal to bring back jobs to a state that has been bleeding them for months.

Of course, maybe some of that stuff was left out so she had extra space to beat up on Jerry Brown.

The new booklet includes nine pages of jabs at the longtime Democratic politician, focusing both on his time as governor and also -- somewhat more than Whitman has in recent weeks -- his record as attorney general. And, not surprisingly, criticism from Whitman that Brown hasn't been specific enough on issues like job creation, though jobs (via clean energy) is about the only policy pronouncement from the Democratic campaign to date.

Whitman's press release today says the new glossy brochure is headed to mailboxes around California. That's got to expensive, right? Maybe so, but it's probably not a problem for a campaign that's breaking spending records and appears to be just fine to keep pouring it on.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.
  • Robin Swanson

    Interesting campaign strategy – when candidate refuses to answer substantive questions from reporters on important matters, issue glossy booklet and hope they don’t notice the difference…

  • ric822

    The harsh reality is that with Meg or Jerry at the wheel, California is going off the economic cliff.
    I think that it will be better for Republicans in the long run if Jerry is at the wheel when California crashes and burns.