June 2nd, 2010
09:50 AM ET
13 years ago

Unions target Whitman in lead up to GOP primary

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/02/art.mwhitman.jpg caption="Meg Whitman is being targeted by union protests in the days leading up to the California gubernatorial primaries."](CNN) – A crowd had gathered to see California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman speak outside a mall in Little Saigon in Southern California when a plane circled overhead pulling a banner that read "Queen Meg 2010." One of the introductory speakers had just announced to the crowd of largely Vietnamese immigrants that Whitman was born in the "Year of the Rooster," when the banner came into sight. Some of her supporters applauded apparently mistaking it for a campaign sign. It was anything but.

The message was part of a union organized protest that's following Whitman in the final days before the California GOP primary. More than a dozen protesters wearing blond wigs – designed to look like Whitman's coif – blew whistles and held signs that read "Rich Enough to Rule 2010" and "Only the Rich Deserve Health Care." Leading the group in chants of "let them eat cake!" were a tiara and tux clad couple waving like royalty.

It's a self-styled "satire" campaign organized by the California Nurses Association objecting to the unprecedented amount of money Whitman has poured into the race. "The former eBay CEO has spent as much as $80 million on the primary to date – $60 million from her own fortune." When asked about the unprecedented spending, Whitman pointed out that California has extremely expensive media markets.

"I have to get the message out," she told CNN.

It is nearly impossible to turn on the television or radio in California without hearing ads by Whitman and her chief opponent, Steve Poizner, a self-made multi-millionaire.

The protesters have appeared at Whitman events in the past, but now plan events throughout the final days before the state's June 8 primary. On Wednesday, Whitman opponents will gather outside former Gov. Pete Wilson's Los Angeles home. Wilson – who is reviled by many of the state's Hispanic voters for his support of the controversial anti-illegal immigration proposition 187 – endorsed Whitman, and he's featured in a campaign ad positioning Whitman as tough on illegal immigration, which has become a pivotal issue in the last days of the Republican primary. The group has translated the Wilson-Whitman ad into Spanish and will begin airing it on Spanish language radio – no doubt hoping it will turn off Hispanic voters.

Whitman reaffirmed to CNN she does not support the Arizona immigration law, but does back new policies to stop illegal border crossings, crack down on sanctuary cities, and on employers who hire illegal workers.

Filed under: 2010 • California • Meg Whitman
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Enough

    Of course the unions will target anyone with an ounce of common sense that wants to end the destructive control the unions have on California..............Unions don't care we are bankrupt. Unions need to quit destroying California and businesses of the country.......why do you think businesses leave California and the US?

    June 2, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. Ken

    I prefer politicians who waist their own money, rather than politicians who waste tax payer money.

    June 2, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. Lori

    I agree. Too many ads. Makes me not want to vote for her or steve poizner. I'm an independent voter and I will be voting for Barbra Boxer and Jerry Brown.

    The Republicans candidates make my skin crawl. They're too conservative for me. I believe in control spending and smaller government, but they're crazy when it comes to social issues and for that reason, they lost my vote.

    June 2, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  4. Anonymous

    The unions gripe about Whiltman spending money, but look at all the money the unions poured into the Obama campaign. It seemed to be "ok"when they did it I can't stand unions and I'm glad whitman is willing to stand up to them.

    June 2, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
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