While Republican Meg Whitman crisscrosses the state, her gubernatorial campaign touching down in multiple cities each day, Democrat Jerry Brown is hardly anywhere to be seen.
And with a large lead in the polls less than a week before Election Day, it might be wise of him to lie low, observers said.
Brown's last public appearance was Tuesday, at an event in Long Beach with Whitman and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He sat out Wednesday and today, and he has no public events scheduled Friday.
Like many candidates with sizable leads, Brown has little to gain from such appearances.
"When you're ahead, you don't want to make a mistake," said Bruce Cain, a UC Berkeley political science professor and director of the University of California Washington Center. "And Jerry's capable of saying something that could offend women at the last minute or minorities at the last minute, or whatever."
Cain said, "It's best to keep Jerry in the cupboard at the last minute."
Whitman said at a campaign stop in Stockton that Brown, the former governor and state attorney general, has been "missing in action."
"I think he wants to be appointed to this office, not elected," the former eBay CEO told reporters after speaking to about 75 supporters at JM Eagle, a plastic pipe manufacturer. "I am working for every single vote in California. I am traveling throughout this state."
Not until this weekend, when both candidates plan to campaign furiously, is Brown expected to make such frequent appearances as Whitman. Like Whitman, his ads remain on TV, and he is scheduled to make 13 campaign appearances in three days.
"I think we're doing all the things we need to get Jerry's message out," campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford said.
Whitman kept up her attack on Brown in brief remarks in Stockton, seizing on speculation Wednesday by former Gov. Gray Davis that a special ballot issues election is likely next year, when higher tax rates on income, sales and vehicles are scheduled to expire.
"The next governor will have to have a special election given the additional revenue shortfall we'll face because of the temporary tax increases expiring," said Davis, who was Brown's chief of staff when he was governor before.
Whitman said that while she would not raise taxes, Brown would.
"Voters be warned," Whitman said. "If Jerry Brown is the next governor, you're going to see a tax increase, and it's not what California needs."
Brown has said he would not approve tax increases without voter approval. Asked if she thought voters would approve of a tax increase, Whitman said, "If he calls an emergency, you know, they won't like it, but he won't work the problem like I will work it. He will not. So I think voters better plan to have a tax increase coming their way if Jerry Brown's governor."
Whitman visited three cities Wednesday and, after a rally this evening in Walnut Creek, will have visited three more today. On Monday, she visited two cities, and she has several events planned Friday.
Brown holds a 10-percentage-point lead over Whitman, buoyed by increasing support from Latinos, women and independent voters, according to a Field Poll released today. Other nonpartisan polls also show him ahead.
Still, Whitman remained optimistic. "Our internal polls show that actually we are surging right now," she said in Stockton. "Momentum is moving my way. This race is a dead heat."
Democratic strategist Garry South, a vocal critic of Brown's campaign, said Brown's lack of public appearances will not help Democrats turn out voters, perhaps hurting other candidates on the Democratic ticket.
Asked if it might hurt Brown, too, South said, "We'll know on Tuesday."
He said, "I just don't think that a nominee for governor goes into hiding the last week of the campaign."
But Cain said Brown's strategy is "smart." Of Brown's weekend tour, Cain said, "It doesn't hurt to look triumphant."