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Jerry pitches town-hall tour, Meg says no

Democratic gubernatorial nominee and state Attorney General Jerry Brown launched the general-election season today by proposing that he and Republican nominee and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman hold 10 joint town-hall appearances around the state to talk about “job creation, schools and the state’s budget mess and to answer questions from voters.”

“Partisan bickering and attack-dog politics have created an awful mess in Sacramento, and I think Meg and I now have an opportunity to change the tenor of politics in California by conducting a responsible campaign that shows the politicians that there is a better way to do business,” Brown said in a news release. “I’m inviting Meg Whitman to join with me to run a campaign that will put the focus on town halls where each of us in an unscripted manner will discuss our positions and answer questions.”

Brown suggested starting in San Diego or San Jose, and then hitting Fresno, Anaheim, Oakland, Sacramento, Riverside, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Francisco. “I think we should have a variety of formats. Some of the town halls could have a panel of reporters asking questions. Others might have local teachers. Some could have regular voters asking Meg and me whatever questions are on their minds.”

He said the meetings could give voters a “full picture” of the two candidates for governor and make TV advertising less important – thus negating the billionaire Whitman’s monetary ace in the hole, a tactic to which she surely would never agree.

“If I never see another political ad in my life, I’ll be happy,” Brown said. “And I’ll bet that most people feel the same way. The town halls will show the voters that we can act as adults and actually treat each other with respect. Meg and I may not agree on many issues, but we can at least tell the truth and explain how we would approach the job of governor.”

WhitmanNot gonna happen, Whitman replied this afternoon.

“There will be plenty of debates in the future,” she said in an e-mailed statement. “But in the present what I recommend to Jerry Brown, instead of playing political games, is to lay out his plan for California. His website has virtually nothing on it and he hasn’t told Californians much of anything. I put out a 48-page policy book and detailed the plans that I have to turn California around. Jerry Brown should lay out a plan for California, and then at least we’ll have something to debate about.”

Brown, lieutenant govnernor nominee Gavin Newsom and other Democratic nominees for statewide office will be at Solaria Corp., a Fremont solar-panel manufacturing plant – no, not the same one President Barack Obama visited recently – tomorrow morning while Whitman has a “homecoming rally” scheduled at the Tech Museum in San Jose.

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.