Whitman Will Put Spotlight on Oakland

The American writer Gertrude Stein, searching in vain for her childhood home in Oakland, famously said of the city, "There's no there there."

After spending a short election night talking with Meg Whitman's aides, it's clear that there's finally a there there.

Oakland, get ready for your political close-up.

Jerry Brown's time as governor of California, from 1975 to 1983, has gotten plenty of attention and scrutiny. But Whitman's aides see more opportunity in criticizing his much more recent two terms, from 1999 through 2007, as mayor of Oakland.

Whitman will argue that Brown failed as mayor, citing problems with crime and especially the schools, which had to be taken over during his time as mayor.

Brown is likely to counter forcefully by pointing to redevelopment in Oakland's downtown and to two successful charter schools he founded.

Both campaigns will spend millions of dollars attempting to define Oakland. Whitman will portray it as a tough place; Brown will talk about it as a turnaround story.

Perhaps in the exchange we'll get an answer to one of those big, cosmic questions that haunt men for all their lives:

Who do we blame for the Raiders?

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