Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

A new Field Poll released today looks ahead at the field of gubernatorial hopefuls.

The poll put Attorney General Jerry Brown 20 points ahead of Democratic rival Gavin Newsom among Democratic primary voters.

Brown, of course, hasn't officially declared his candidacy but recently opened an exploratory committee to raise money for the race.

The poll indicates that Brown's support is stronger in the south state, with a much tighter five-point lead in Northern California.

The 42-year-old San Francisco mayor holds an edge over 71-year-old Brown with a nine-point lead among voters ages 18 to 39.

The poll also picks up on a potential race changer. If U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein threw her hat in the ring, she would lead both Brown and Newsom, with 40 percent of the Democratic primary voters polled throwing their support behind her.

On the GOP side, Meg Whitman leads the pack of Republican hopefuls, with 22 percent of GOP primary voters backing her bid. Former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell came in a close second with 20 percent. Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner trailed with 9 percent.

And almost half of GOP primary voters -- 49 percent -- say they're still undecided.

Looking ahead to next November: Brown leads all the Republican contenders by margins of 21 to 25 points, while Newsom holds a single-digit lead over his GOP foes.

Pollsters interviewed 1,005 registered voters in California by telephone between Sept. 18 and Oct. 5.

Want more on the poll and what it means? Colleague Jack Chang has the scoop in today's Bee. Click here to see the poll and tabulations prepared exclusively for Capitol Alert.

On tap today: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders are set to meet at 11:30 to try to hammer out the details of a water deal. The clock is ticking with just four full days for Schwarzenegger to act on more than 700 bills that have been sent to his desk. Lawmakers say he is holding out on signing or vetoing the measures until a water accord is reached.

Today's negotiations will be "Big Five" plus one, at least.

The office of Assemblywoman Anna Caballero said last night that Assembly Speaker Karen Bass has asked the Salinas Democrat to join the talks.

The Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee kicks off a two-day series of hearings on Commission on the 21st Century Economy's proposals for overhauling the state's tax system.

The committee, which meets at 10 a.m. in Room 126 of the Capitol, will hear from Commission Chair Gerald Parsky, Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, Department of Finance Research Chief Phil Spilberg and a slew of other commission members and tax experts.

Representatives from the California Chamber of Commerce, California Budget Project and the California Tax Reform Association will also give their takes on the plan. You can see the agenda and a list of people scheduled to testify here. Click here to see the agenda for Friday's hearing.


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