With pre-election politicking, both major-party candidates for lieutenant governor barnstormed the East Bay on Friday to try to drive their constituencies to the polls.

Democrat Gavin Newsom launched a three-day series of college campus get-out-the-vote rallies with a morning event at UC Berkeley, while Republican incumbent Abel Maldonado brought his "Only In California Bus Tour 2010" to Walnut Creek's Original Hick'ry Pit barbecue restaurant to talk to voters about job creation.

At Cal, Newsom -- accompanied by Assemblyman Dave Jones, the Democratic nominee for state insurance commissioner -- seemed unfazed by a light turnout; student volunteers had to pull some empty seats from the room so the 100 or so supporters who showed up wouldn't look meager. Newsom said this lack of eagerness is why he's targeting college campuses, including UC San Diego on Saturday, and Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine on Monday -- to build young voters' enthusiasm for a down-ticket, somewhat under-the-radar race.

"I need you to turn out. Tell the pundits they're wrong: 18- to 39-year-olds do care about this race," he told supporters, noting that if younger voters flock to the polls, he and the Democratic ticket will win handily.

Newsom reminded students that UC fees have almost tripled in the past decade. "It doesn't have to be this way. We've seen states across the nation that haven't increased their fees."

Protecting California's economic future means not only investing in quality higher education for all, Newsom said, but also defeating Proposition 23, the ballot measure that would roll back the state's greenhouse gas emissions law. If passed, the measure would cripple California's effort to cast itself as a hub of the emerging clean-energy sector, he said.

"This is fundamental in terms of the fate and future of California: to defeat the Texas oil companies, not just the Texas Rangers," he quipped, calling clean-energy sector jobs "a godsend; this is the ticket to long-term economic growth."

"I'm not here to fail more efficiently, I don't want to play on the margins," he said, promising to stand for higher education and green jobs as lieutenant governor, a post that would give him seats on the University of California Board of Regents, the California State University board of trustees, the State Lands Commission, the Ocean Protection Council and the Commission for Economic Development.

Maldonado -- accompanied by his wife, his daughter and former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg -- worked the barbecue restaurant's tables, shaking hands and touting his campaign. Though several local Republican activists were on hand to meet the candidate, most of the customers -- mostly elderly -- were taken by surprise.

"I'm actually more of a Democrat but I like that Abel works well with both parties," said Dale Gaboury, 80, of Alamo, who had briefly bonded with Maldonado over their shared roots in Santa Maria. Asked if she would vote for him, she replied, "Can't say. But I admire him."

Canciamilla said that's why he's supporting Maldonado, with whom he served in the Assembly. "I saw firsthand how he was one of the few who was willing to join with the lot of us to try to solve issues," he said, adding Maldonado is truly interested in coalition-building and "has a lot of integrity -- basically, what you see is what you get. He's a straight shooter, one of the good guys."