Arizona Sen. John McCain will announce his support for Republican Meg Whitman in California’s 2010 gubernatorial race Friday, a Whitman spokesman says.
"We are thrilled to have someone of his stature as part of the team," spokesman Mitch Zak told Associated Press.
Whitman, former chief executive of eBay, was a national co-chair of McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and advised him on economic issues.
She seeks to replace incumbent Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who can’t run for a third straight term and has lost popularity amid California’s financial crisis anyway.
Whitman has earned support from other powerful Republicans on the national scene as well. Former California Gov. Pete Wilson is her campaign chairman, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has endorsed her.
Whitman may be the best known candidate in a Republican field that is also expected to include former Congressman Tom Campbell and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.
"She's got a lock on those who are most well known in the Republican establishment," GOP analyst Allan Hoffenblum, tells AP.
But Whitman’s moderate views may hurt her in a state where conservatives generally dominate Republican parties.
Poizner spokesman Kevin Spillane tells the AP that his boss has been endorsed by over 70 percent of California's Republican legislators.
Democratic candidates could include Attorney General and former governor Jerry Brown, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Whitman will likely play up her financial management credentials, as California faces a budget deficit projected to hit $42 billion by the middle of next year.
She opposed the three budget measures rejected by California voters earlier this month – measures that Schwarzenegger said were desperately needed to buoy the state's finances.
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