This is hands-down the best ad of the 2010 election cycle, and it comes from a Republican candidate who isn’t even going to make it out of the primary:

GOP guv-hopeful Steve Poizner launched a new TV spot today attacking rival Meg Whitman’s connections to Goldman Sachs.

Whitman’s ties to the investment firm, which colleague Jon Ortiz delves into here, have become an issue in the gubernatorial race as the firm comes under more heat for its role in the financial crisis, including a reported criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Whitman, a former Goldman Sachs board member, has held significant investments in the firm and received contributions from company executives and their families.

The article seriously soft-pedals Whitman’s ties to Goldman Sachs, but the ad doesn’t. The imagery of vultures circling is fantastic, and Poizner gets at least 6 good hits on Whitman in 30 seconds. There’s a companion mini-site hitting Whitman for her “corrupt insider deals.”

In response, Whitman plans to dredge up some video from when Poizner ran for a Democratic-leaning Assembly seat, with him “pandering to the left on issues like abortion, taxes and the environment.” There’s footage like this on Whitman, too, or at least some public positions she has taken. But that should be enough to blunt the Goldman Sachs attack in a Democratic primary.

The general election is another matter. This reminds me a lot of 2006, when Steve Westly attacked Phil Angelides on taxes for months leading up to the primary. Angelides weathered the storm and won the election, but the day after, Arnold Schwarzenegger ran essentially Westly’s spot as the first ad of the general election.

You could see the same kind of piggy-back maneuever here. Jerry Brown has teed up an anti-Wall Street message for the general election, and with everything swirling around Goldman and the factual information on what Whitman did while on the board, and the stock spinning scandal, makes this a natural component of that message.

If there’s a reason why it won’t happen, it’s that Brown’s sister, Kathleen, who lost a Governor’s race in California in 1994, is an executive at Goldman Sachs. That may or may not constrain Brown. There’s also a kind of bogus report about Goldman doing a bad muni deal with the city of Oakland, which happened before Brown became the Mayor there.

Regardless, someone’s going to run a version of this ad, be it Brown or an independent expenditure on his behalf, between now and the general election. The lid is off.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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