Phil Trounstine and Jerry Roberts nail it

Without Newsom, new faces, same old thing

One year before the 2010 election, Gavin Newsom’s abrupt withdrawal from the governor’s race leaves the campaign without a candidate conveying the message most aligned with California’s zeitgeist of the moment: a call for sweeping reform.

With Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown the lone (if still formally undeclared) Democratic candidate, and a Republican field of former EBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman, ex-Rep. Tom Campbell and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, the race now presents two fundamental, thematic choices:

Brown and Campbell argue, in slightly different ways, that fixing California is a matter of making government work better; Whitman and Poizner essentially contend that fixing California means getting government out of the way.

At a time when Californians have record-low regard for state government, none of the four has mounted a challenge to the status quo as strongly as did Newsom. A flawed messenger lacking focus and the discipline to raise the vast sums needed, he nonetheless came closest to seizing the mantle of change.

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