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Polls Open Across Southern California

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(credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Voters who have not mailed in absentee ballots are heading to the polls across the state Tuesday.

For the first time, a new field poll shows 55 percent of Californians voting in the midterm election used an absentee ballot.

Field Poll’s Mark DiCamello Talks To KNX 1070

Meanwhile, Democrat Jerry Brown spent the final day of his campaign for California governor Monday promising voters he would work with lawmakers to solve the state’s financial problems and bring inclusion and transparency to the office.

Brown and other Democrats seeking statewide office rallied outside the downtown Los Angeles library after he appeared in San Diego.

“Living within our means is not going to be that easy, but I’ve pledged to work with everybody.” Brown said in Los Angeles. “When I start this job — if I’m elected — I’m not going to wait for a couple of months. I’m going to go to work.”

Republican Meg Whitman, who has made a similar pledge to bring lawmakers together, spent her day rallying campaign volunteers working to boost voter turnout.

In Woodland Hills, Whitman said the momentum was with her and the GOP, which is hoping to make gains nationwide.

“You can feel the energy and enthusiasm,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and said, ‘I’m a lifelong Democrat. I’ve never voted for a Republican. I’m voting for you.”‘

After shaking hands and taking pictures with volunteers, Whitman sat down with four women in a cubicle and made five phone calls asking for support. She rang a cow bell after hanging up one call, signaling one more vote.

The former CEO was also meeting with volunteers in Costa Mesa, San Diego and Temecula.

In San Diego, hundreds of supporters packed an outdoor Mexican restaurant in a historic area of the city for a morning rally for Brown, who watched tortillas being made as music played across the street.

He said California faces a multibillion-dollar budget deficit that will require compromise to reduce.

Brown, who is now the state attorney general, often tangled with lawmakers during his first tenure as governor from 1975 to 1983.

“I just try to tell it like it is. And when I’m up there in Sacramento, I’ll tell it straight,” Brown said. “To get through the difficulty and get Republican and Democrat working together, you’ve got to be honest, you’ve got to be inclusive and you’ve got to be fair.”

Later in the day, Brown left Los Angeles for Salinas then he wrapped up his campaign with a rally of several hundred supporters along the waterfront in his hometown of Oakland, the city where he once served as mayor. A band warmed up the crowd before Brown and other Democrats took the stage for one last plea for votes.

There was a slight disturbance during Brown’s speech when a small group of protesters attempted to raise a sign criticizing a local San Francisco TV station for its coverage of a 2009 New Year’s Day shooting at an Oakland BART station that left a man dead.

As he left the event, Brown told reporters he was enthusiastic and reasonably optimistic about Election Day.

“This has been a very interesting campaign. It’s grown in enthusiasm and excitement,” Brown said. “I think the next few years could be very daunting, so I approach it with real sobriety as I look at how difficult it’s going to be.”

Both candidates delivered their closing arguments to voters in what has become California’s most expensive gubernatorial race in history.

Public opinion polls have shown Brown is leading Whitman, a billionaire former chief executive of eBay Inc. who has spent nearly $142 million of her personal fortune on her first run for political office.

A Field Poll last week showed Brown with a double-digit lead — 49 percent to 39 percent — over Whitman among likely voters. But Whitman and her supporters say they believe the same energy behind Republicans nationwide will result in a GOP sweep in California and overcome a 13 percentage point Democratic voter registration advantage.

When asked about those polls, Whitman said she believes the race was closer than those surveys indicated.

“The only poll that matters is tomorrow,” she said Monday in Woodland Hills. “Our polls look great. We’re going to battle it out to the end. I feel great about where we are.”

Whitman made a brief stop at her Orange County campaign headquarters in Costa Mesa, where she met volunteers working at phone banks, posed for pictures and signed T-shirts and campaign posters. About 50 volunteers chanted “We are ready! We are ready!” as Whitman arrived.

Imelda Preciado, 63, said she had been volunteering seven days a week for eight hours a day, going to campaign events, making get-out-the-vote calls and doing other tasks. Preciado was wearing several campaign buttons, including one that read “Take Out the Trash on Nov. 2.”

“We can do better than the way we are now. If we have Jerry Brown, we’re going to be worse,” Preciado said.

Whitman has tried to cast herself as a “proven job creator” who would be ready to tackle the state’s deficit with deep cuts to public payroll and entitlement programs, while boosting the economy with the classic GOP approach of deregulation and tax cuts.

Brown said voters only need to look at his track record as governor to see that he will bring an inclusive approach to governing.

“Everybody’s got something to contribute and we want a government that’s made up of all of us,” Brown said.

• To watch votes being tallied live in Los Angeles County, visit lavote, which will have live feeds available.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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