California Candidates Target Early Voters

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(CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco elections officials were preparing to open their doors Monday, the first day of early voting in California.

“Everyone who’s a registered voter in San Francisco can come to City Hall and actually cast a ballot on Monday,” explained Elections Director John Arntz. “29 days before election day we open up early voting here at City Hall.”

Not only were the ballot boxes being prepped, but campaign managers were keenly aware of the looming start of early voting as well.

“Obviously you know, we’re very focused as I’m sure the other side is, on making sure that as many of our voters fill those ballots out and get them back as we can,” said Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for Attorney General Jerry Brown’s gubernatorial campaign.

Arntz estimated that as many as half of San Francisco’s voters would cast ballots early, which meant additional incentive for candidates in tighter races, like California’s gubernatorial contest, to work aggressively well ahead of election day.

“You know you have to spend in September and October,” conceded Republican Party strategist and Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen. “It puts more pressure to raise money on a candidate, more pressure to run a full throttle media campaign for not one month but two months.”

One of the goals on the campaign trail was delivering an effective message that resonated with voters.

“You want to make sure they’re fully informed by the time that ballot gets to their house,” offered Clifford. “You know this is one of those races where every vote is critical.”

So-called campaign silver bullets were to be expected.

“With people voting now in October instead of November, you put things out earlier to have an effect on the election,” Whalen theorized, noting the timing of revelations that GOP gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman may have knowingly employed an illegal immigrant housekeeper. “So therefore, this allegation comes out now rather than toward the end of the election.”

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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