As I wrote in my previous post, the big question in the gubernatorial primary campaign was whether GOP candidate Steve Poizner would seize the Goldman Sachs controversies to attack Meg Whitman on her ties to the Wall Street investment giant.
Poizner answered that question today with the release of a new ad, "Vulture." The name comes from Whitman's financial disclosures that show a portion of her massive, widely diversified financial portfolio is invested in so-called "vulture funds," designed to profit from others' economic hard times.
The significance in this shift on Poizner's part is that his previous commercials, including one featuring former Ventura County lawmaker and conservative icon Tom McClintock, have essentially charged Whitman with not being conservative enough. That matters in a Republican primary, but those attacks were unlikely to weaken Whitman's standing with all-important moderate voters going into the general election campaign. But by hitting Whitman on the Goldman Sachs issue, Poizner is picking at a Whitman vulnerability that will linger into the general election.
Poizner told the Orange County Register the other day that he believes he is going to pull of one of the great political comebacks in California history, and that he hopes by May 10 his contest with Whitman will be "an incredible horse race." His strategy all along has been to hit late and hit hard.
Still, many Republicans will be cringing at his new commercial. If Whitman is the eventual nominee, this new attack will essentially amount to a multimillion-dollar contribution by Poizner to the campaign of Democratic nominee Jerry Brown.