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Whitman Takes Big Lead Over Poizner In Republican Gubernatorial Race

— Meg Whitman took a more than 2-1 lead over Steve Poizner in early returns tonight in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Special Feature Election Results

View the full live election results.

Whitman had 65.4 percent of the early vote, compared to 25.2 percent for Poizner, with 3.6 percent of precincts partially or fully reporting, plus vote-by-mail ballots, according to figures released by the Secretary of State's Office.

The winner will face Attorney General Jerry Brown, the state's governor from 1975-1983, who defeated a field of six little-known candidates to win the Democratic nomination. Brown had 82.6 percent of the vote.

If Whitman wins, she would be the first woman nominated for governor by the California Republican Party. California has never elected a woman governor. Democrats have twice nominated women for the state's top position, Dianne Feinstein and Kathleen Brown, but both lost to Pete Wilson.

Whitman and Poizner clashed on taxes, immigration and their conservative credentials.

Whitman, the former eBay chief executive officer, focused on three issues -- creating jobs, cutting government spending and improving education.

Poizner, the state's insurance commissioner, proposed tax cuts to revitalize the state's economy and supported Arizona's illegal immigration law and other steps seeking to eliminate illegal immigration.

The campaign has been the costliest gubernatorial primary campaign in state history. From New Year's Day through May 22, the Whitman campaign spent more than $61 million, while the Poizner campaign spent more than $20 million, according to figures from the Secretary of State's Office.

Whitman, a billionaire, has donated $68 million to her campaign since last year, while Poizner, a multimillionaire, has donated $24 million to his.

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