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FILE -- Nearly 500,000 Republican households across the state will get free copies of Meg (Whitman), the magazine, in their mailboxes. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Staff)
Governor's race
Politics page

Most Californians have seen Meg Whitman's TV commercials at least a few dozen times. They've heard the GOP gubernatorial candidate's radio ads more often than they've heard the Geico gecko.

And this week, nearly 500,000 Republican households across the state are getting free copies of Meg, the magazine.

"It looks just like Newsweek," Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst at the University of Southern California, said of the 48-page, full-color glossy "brochure."

Titled "Meg 2010: Building a New California,'' the publication contains colorful charts, gauzy pictures of the Golden State and policy proposals on everything from solving the pension crisis to bringing "real welfare reform" to California.

"It's just incredible," Jeffe said. "You know that it cost a fortune, but if you have enough money to pay for everything, why not?"

The Whitman campaign would not disclose the cost of the mailing, but campaign experts agreed it must have cost at least half a million dollars to print and mail out the magazine, which has also been sent to about 1,400 libraries across the state.

The GOP households getting the mailing were targeted because they were determined to be likely voters in the June 8 primary.

Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, has vowed to spend $150 million of her own fortune to become governor. She's already written checks for $59 million.

Sarah Pompei, Whitman's spokeswoman, agreed that it was "pretty unusual" to put out such a thick campaign document.

"Many politicians don't like to put down specific policy proposals because they believe they'll alienate one group or another," Pompei said. "But Meg's not a typical politician. She wants people to know where she stands."

Among the "typical politicians," Pompei said, was state Attorney General Jerry Brown, the presumed Democratic nominee. Pompei criticized him for being "more concerned about keeping labor unions and other entrenched allies happy than sharing his positions with Californians."

Sterling Clifford, Brown's spokesman, said he wasn't impressed with the tome.

"It takes a lot of guts to call 22 pages of photographs and some bullet points a plan," he said. "I would call it one of the nicest California photo albums ever. And it will give voters an indication of how inconsistent and contradictory Whitman's proposals are."

If the Legislature follows her proposal to eliminate the capital gains tax, Clifford said, it will "cut $12 billion in taxes for some of the wealthiest Californians at the same time she's calling for a billion dollars in more spending for higher education. She's even proposing creating two separate commissions to help reduce waste."

Asked when Brown would issue his own plan for fixing the state, Clifford said: "There will be plenty of specific policy proposals throughout the duration of his campaign. It's a long march. And I guarantee that his vision of state government will be his own and not that of $40,000-a-month consultants."

Contact Ken McLaughlin at 408 920-5552.