Steve Poizner throws in the towel

… and Meg Whitman is the Republican nominee for governor of California.

Here’s what Poizner had to say tonight in Irvine:

Thank you all for being here.

It’s tough competing for airtime with the Los Angeles Lakers, so I appreciate that all of you are here with us tonight.

I am so grateful to have with me tonight the family I love: Carol, my wife of 22 years, and our daughter Rebecca.

They have been a constant source of support during this demanding campaign. And they have been—and always will be—my pride and joy.

During this campaign, I was gratified to have the support of great conservative leaders like Tom McClintock, George Deukmejian, and Jim Brulte.

All of you gathered in this room—and all of our supporters across California—should take pride in knowing that you were the heart and soul of this great cause.

Thank you for your unwavering support and steadfast commitment to conservative change.

A little while ago, I called Meg Whitman to congratulate her and to wish her well in her continuing campaign for governor.

I enjoyed our spirited debates and I hope we’ll get a chance to know each other better in the future.

Running for governor has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Even though we were outspent four-to-one, I know that this campaign was an overwhelming victory for our solutions, values, and ideals.

I believe that being a Republican must be about more than just winning an election.

When we surrender our ideals—and the principles we hold dear in the name of victory—that victory is hollow.

Our task is to press ahead, fighting for these conservative principles, to ensure that they prevail in the Fall.

Meg Whitman began this campaign as a skeptic of our conservative ideals.

We challenged her. And by the end, she embraced our positions on many issues.

Without our fight and your efforts, that never would have happened.

We believe in the urgent need to secure our borders, and vigorously fight any effort to grant amnesty to those who are here illegally.

We believe that broad-based tax relief will grow our economy and create the jobs that Californians so desperately need.

We believe that we should fight President Obama’s big-government takeover of our healthcare system.

We believe in driving the number of abortions to zero by ending all taxpayer funding of abortions.

We believe that our state’s last, best hope is to defeat Jerry Brown and reform Sacramento.

If Meg Whitman runs on conservative principles, she deserves our full support.

I am confident that California’s best days are still ahead of us.

I’ve seen it in entrepreneurs and small business owners—with the boldness and courage to pursue new ideas.

I’ve seen it in the men and women who lay their lives on the line each and every day to protect our state’s citizens.

And I’ve seen it in the moms and dads who want their kids to be the first in their families to go on to college.

We did not prevail today.

But that does not mean that our fight ends here.

We go forward boldly and confidently, secure in the conviction that only our conservative ideals can turn the tide.

Together, we can save California.

You know it.

I know it.

Let’s fight on!

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.