LOS ANGELES — Despite the Universal City setting, the crowd that gathered at Meg Whitman's victory party was decidedly un-Hollywood.
A smattering of Republican elected officials showed up, but not Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Whitman backers and party stalwarts filled a not-very-large ballroom. But this was not where the glitterati gathered.
The Lakers game attracted more interest than the guest of honor. Out of deference to basketball fans, Team Whitman did not announce that the Associated Press had declared her the winner until after the game ended.
All that was fitting for a primary that drew a third of California's electorate, maybe less.
For the first time in California, two women will lead the Republican ticket, gubernatorial nominee Whitman and Carly Fiorina, the U.S. Senate nominee. But in a year when incumbents supposedly are on the outs, these first-time candidates who sold themselves as business-savvy Silicon Valley types failed to gin up much excitement.
Voters are in a sour mood, and nothing that happened in the primary sweetened their attitude. Whitman and Fiorina campaigned against entrenched insiders, but won by slinging mud like old pros.
Incredibly, Whitman spent $90 million on the primary against Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, and polls show that voters view her less favorably now than when her campaign began months ago, thanks to the $25 million that Poizner spent against her.
"What a waste of money," Len Calderone said, after casting his vote in Studio City, not far from the Universal City Hilton, where Whitman's supporters would gather for their party. "They should have their heads examined."
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