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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Protesters have their own debate on Fresno State campus

    FRESNO, Calif. — More than 80 protesters gathered outside Saturday’s California gubernatorial debate, bringing a carnival-like atmosphere to Fresno State’s Satellite Student Union.

    Some clutched megaphones. Others knelt on the grass, spray-painting messages on signs. And supporters of state Attorney General Jerry Brown waved feather dusters and brooms to represent Nicky Diaz Santillan, the undocumented housekeeper fired by Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.

    “”Hey, Meg, it’s not OK to throw another human being away!”” chanted dozens of Brown supporters.

    Shortly after 10 a.m., the yelling intensified with the arrival of about 15 Whitman voters.

    “”Go Meg, go! Go, Meg, go!”” they chanted, facing the Brown supporters.

    “”Go home, Meg! Working people vote for Brown!”” the other camp yelled back.

    The protests were loud, but not violent. It was a different atmosphere than what occurred during the debate between Brown and Whitman last week at the University of California, Davis. At that event, protesters got into a brief shoving match.

    On Saturday, Gregory Sherman, a student from Sacramento City College, said he had been elbowed in the face at the UC Davis protests. It strengthened his resolve to drive to Fresno and support Whitman, he said.

    Sherman favors cutting taxes for employers and streamlining state government. “”California was built on entrepreneurs, not government jobs,”” he said.

    But some Republicans were among Brown’s supporters. Tim Chaney, a member of the Visalia Unified School District’s school board, called Whitman unqualified to lead the state.

    “”Meg Whitman hasn’t voted in two decades. She’s out of touch with what’s going on politically,”” he said. “”… She was successful as a CEO, granted, but I think she’s trying to buy her way into this job.””

    Non-partisan groups also attended, such as the Campaign for College Opportunity, a non-profit that wants more resources for college students in California.

    “”Meg and Jerry, listen up!”” a supporter of the campaign shouted. “”If you want our votes, invest in higher education!””

    One group, the Central Valley tea party, was conspicuously absent from the Fresno State protests. Its members were busy with Saturday’s “”Remember in November”” at the Big Fresno Fairgrounds.

    It was a get-out-the-vote event with a focus on propositions and politicians on the November ballot, said Melissa Courtney, an event coordinator.

    When asked if the Central Valley tea party was supporting Whitman, Courtney replied: “”No comment.””

    Across the city, at Ahwahnee Middle School, hundreds of labor union members and others crowded into the sweltering gym for a Brown rally. They chanted “”Si se puede!”” — Spanish for “”Yes, we can!””

    State Sen. Dean Florez jazzed the crowd. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer introduced Brown. And Brown promised jobs to average workers, prompting the crowd to chant “”Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!””

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