Political Season Notes

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This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed for KCRW.

We got a much clearer picture this week of what the election season is going to be like in California. It's going to be long and loud and all over your television.

It's only March and already we've had an onslaught of TV and Internet ads from Republican front-runner Meg Whitman.

Now the news, delivered in a Field Poll this week, that her ads have so far worked means that we're going to see waves of response ads.

Her chief Republican rival, Steve Poizner, has so far opted for the stealth campaign model. But he won't be able to do that anymore.

While he's been laying low, Whitman has built up nearly a 50-point lead. That's big enough some political columnists are already calling the Republican primary race over.

Poizner's strategist saw it coming and began quietly prepping reporters over the weekend that the poll numbers would be bad for his man. And he was right.

More surprising is that the Field Poll showed Whitman with a slim lead in November over Jerry Brown, the state Attorney General who will be the Democratic nominee.

Brown teased other Democrats and the media for months, laying low himself and letting other candidates make all the noise while he played the role of above-it-all frontrunner.

Well, now he's not that any more, at least not as convincingly. I expect Brown to invade the airwaves both with ads and with stories about this or that popular-sounding action by his Attorney General's office.

Brown was a wizard at getting tons of free media coverage when he first ran for governor back in 1974. In the age of blogs, his advisers know how to attract attention from a new generation of Brown watchers.

From a media standpoint, I was mildly disappointed that San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom decided not to run against Brown.

A contested race would have been more interesting to cover -- and better for the state's voters.

Instead, Newsom jumped at the last minute into the Democrats' contest for lieutenant governor.

He says his heart is in it, but you have to wonder given how long he delayed announcing his candidacy – and the bitterness he exuded after his campaign for governor fell apart.

Maybe Newsom being in the race isn't all bad for Janice Hahn, the Los Angeles City Council member who for a few months had the field all too herself.

Despite having a last name familiar to most politically aware Angelenos, even with Democrats she had a lot of work to do.

North of roughly the corner of Balboa and San Fernando Road out in the Valley, no one knows Hahn.

Now, though, she has Newsom to run against. The media will have a reason to cover her, and she'll be mentioned in the stories about Newsom and his wine store and his actress wife.

The other fascinating twist at the filing deadline for candidates was that blogger Mickey Kaus turned in the papers to run against Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Kaus is a disaffected Democrat from Venice, the son of a former California Supreme Justice who Brown appointed to the court.

Kaus says he didn't want to see Boxer glide through the primary season without answering questions about illegal immigration and the influence of labor unions.

His blog at Slate.com is a forum for critics of Boxer and President Obama. Now that he's on the ballot and has to worry about details like federal election rules, Kaus is moving his blog off Slate.

As he said in a post, the only reason anybody might go to his campaign web site is if Kausfiles is there. So that's where to find it.

For KCRW, this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.