Incumbent: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is term-limited
Republican: Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman
Democrat: Attorney General Jerry Brown
2008 Presidential Result: Obama 61%; McCain 37%
55+ Population (2009 estimate): 21.6%
Overview: Along with differences on the issues, Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown could not have more different styles. Whitman has spent over $119 million of her own money on the campaign, breaking the record set by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spent $109 million on his reelection campaign last year. Brown has a well-earned reputation for frugality, though he also has 1.1 million followers on Twitter. Brown has an electoral advantage in a state that is becoming more Democratic, but Whitman is the outsider in an outsider's year. Whitman says she will bring a businesswoman's eye to the state's economic problems; Brown says he would be good at bridging the divide in the state Capitol.
Both have taken note of the state's bad economy, but neither has come up with a specific plan to address it.
50+ Facts: Check the latest economic statistics and details on the state budget deficit.
Fun Fact: Jerry Brown was once the youngest California governor of the 20th century, in 1975 at age 37. If elected this time, he would become the state's oldest, at age 72.
'Wild Card' Issue: Immigration. This issue has been bedeviling California politics at least since 1994, when then-Gov. Pete Wilson backed the state's Proposition 187. The proposition would have prohibited illegal immigrants from receiving social services, and the campaign drove many state Hispanics to the Democratic Party.
Whitman has been on the air with Spanish-language ads trying to attract Hispanic voters, and polls show her succeeding to an extent, but her campaign chairman is Wilson, which may give Hispanics pause.
Introduction: Governors' Races Hold High Stakes for the Future