In Case You Missed It: Editorial: Whitman's Muddled Positions Make a Mockery of Campaign Promises

Brown for Governor Campaign

From the San Jose Mercury News:

Meg Whitman is taking a lot of heat for an offhand remark comparing Fresno to Detroit during a meeting with our editorial board Tuesday. But the most telling revelation about her ability to run California has been her waffling over AB 32, the state global warming law that technology leaders believe can propel California into the forefront of the world's green economy.

On Thursday, Whitman finally came out against Proposition 23, an initiative funded by out-of-state oil companies that would all but repeal the global warming law. She announced her conclusion a full year after writing an op-ed for the Mercury News extremely critical of AB 32, calling it “job killing” -- and just two days after our meeting, during which she said that if AB 32 came before her today as governor, she would “probably” veto it. (To hear a recording of this discussion, go to

So we are left to wonder: What does Meg Whitman really stand for? Why did it take her a full year to say whether she’d vote to repeal the law, having had strong enough thoughts that far back to write an op-ed about how bad it was? And why did she reach this particular conclusion now if she would “probably” veto the law if she could?

We have a suspicion: polls. The law requiring California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2020 is popular here, both among environmentalists and industry groups (although surely not oil companies).

Whitman’s position on Proposition 23 is the right one, putting her on the side of Silicon Valley industry, of such luminaries as former Secretary of State George Shultz and of -- ahem -- Jerry Brown, her opponent. The problem is that we still don't really know what she thinks because her statements about the law remain mostly negative.

This is not just a matter of semantics. As Whitman herself has said, businesses need certainty as an incentive to invest. Yet it’s AB 32 that has provided the certainty to attract billions in green tech investment here, creating jobs that would otherwise have gone to China or Germany. And if she really believes the regulations will be a job-killer, no amount of tinkering during her proposed one-year moratorium could make a difference.

It's true, as Whitman says, that this sector still accounts for a small segment of California's economy. But it is the only sector that's been growing in the past few years.

This isn't the only area in which Whitman is muddled. Immigration is another example.

At first, Whitman said she opposed Arizona's draconian immigration law. Then she said the federal government had no right trying to prevent it from taking effect. Then, on a radio program, she said she doesn't support a similar law for California because it's such a big state. But she told us it's because the Arizona law is too divisive.

Whitman said Tuesday that she would govern from the right, emphasizing how important it is for lawmakers of both parties to know where she stands. In her campaign ads she says, over and over: “Let's say what we mean, mean what we say and let’s get it done.”

Great idea. When shall we begin?


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