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The Sierra Ballroom of the Universal City Hilton hotel exploded in applause and cheers tonight as Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman took the stage to celebrate her crushing primary win over rival Steve Poizner.

Standing in front of a multicultural backdrop of dozens of supporters, Whitman said she had received "a very gracious call" from Poizner and then went after her Democratic rival Jerry Brown, who easily won his primary race tonight.

Whitman, the former CEO of online auction firm eBay, also congratulated former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina for winning the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race.

"Career politicians in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. be warned," Whitman said. "You now face your worst nightmare - two businesswomen from the real world who know how to create jobs, balance budgets and get things done."

About Brown, Whitman said, "Jerry Brown has spent a lifetime in politics, and the results have not been good. Failure seems to follow Jerry Brown everywhere he goes. It's a record of promising much and delivering little. Of saying one thing, and then doing quite another."

She blamed Brown for rising unemployment and state spending during his first two terms as governor, from 1975 to 1983 and for the poor state of Oakland's school when he was mayor in that city from 1998 to 2006.

Brown's campaign has responded to such criticisms by saying the Democrat created 1.9 million jobs during his time as governor and had to increase state spending because local jurisdictions lost billions in revenue after voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978.

"I say California can do better," Whitman said. "Because while politics is Jerry Brown's business, my business is creating good new jobs."

Like she has throughout the primary, Whitman also targeted state employees, saying, "If you give me the honor of being your next governor, the special interests and public employee unions won't stand a chance, because I will owe my office to no one but you."

Independent expenditure committees funded by such public employee unions are in fact preparing to spend millions of dollars taking on Whitman, with TV ads against her expected to hit the airwaves within days.

Whitman, a billionaire who has poured a record-breaking $71 million so far into her campaign, said she was beholden to no one - echoing rhetoric used by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was running for his office.

Brown, she said, could not make such a claim.

"He has aligned nearly every single interest group in Sacramento against us," Whitman said. "And that means favors will be owed to every power broker with a vested interest in keeping our state budget broken, our schools underperforming and the state pension system spinning into insolvency."

Whitman finished her speech with an exhuberant "God bless California!" Green and orange balloons dropped from the ballroom's ceiling, and confetti flew. Her husband, two sons and extended family joined her onstage. The sound system rocked country star Kenny Chesney's song "This is Our Moment," a fixture of her campaign.

Tomorrow, Whitman is scheduled to attend a California Republican Party unity breakfast in Anaheim.

Photo: GOP gubernatorial nominee Whitman and husband Griffith Harsh greet supporters at her election night party in Los Angeles June 8, 2010. (Hector Amezcua/Sacramento Bee)



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