The issue of immigration has “hijacked” the platforms of Republican gubernatorial hopefuls Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner as they head toward Tuesday's primary in California, and that could hurt the winner's efforts against Democrat Jerry Brown in November's big dance, according to the New York Times.

The Times notes that Poizner started the fight with Whitman, baiting her into a battle to see who's the most vehemently opposed to illegal immigration. It worked at first, with Poizner closing the gap with frontrunner Whitman before she fought back and distanced herself from him in the polls. “It is the only issue,” Stuart Stevens, Poizner's chief campaign consultant, told the paper. However …

The issue could bite whomever wins in the ass: What plays in the Republican party, for an audience of conservatives, doesn't always play in a statewide election. Whitman's folks told the Times that she plans to emphasize other issues in the general election.

States the Times:

One in six voters this November is expected to be Hispanic — a proportion that is likely to grow in coming years — and Southern California has been at the forefront of efforts to boycott Arizona for enacting tough anti-immigrant legislation in late April.

In many ways, California's primary race offers a worrisome preview of what many Republicans say are the political perils for the party nationally in being identified with tough immigration policies.

Poizner, however, says he'll stick to his guns if by some miracle he beats Whitman on Tuesday and ends up facing Brown in November. ” … Everywhere I go,” he says, “people burst out into applause when I start talking about it.”

LA Weekly