One candidate in next year's gubernatorial race contributed thousands of dollars to Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and John Kerry.
Another wrote $21,000 in checks to Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore and the Democratic National Committee in 2000.
A third was a registered Democrat in the early 1970s and has acknowledged supporting George McGovern as the party's presidential candidate in 1972.
All three — Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner and Tom Campbell — are vying to become California's next governor, but not as Democrats. They constitute the entire GOP gubernatorial field, a fact that has some Republicans wondering where their candidates' loyalties really lie.
It's a pattern that is complicating a Republican primary already unique in offering three social moderates. The candidates have reacted by seeking to sell themselves as the real Republican of the bunch.
Their pitches, however, aren't convincing conservatives such as Jon Fleischman, vice chairman of the state GOP's southern branch and publisher of the FlashReport blog.
"Clearly, it's difficult for a conservative to try to rationalize why this kind of behavior is acceptable," Fleischman said about the campaign contributions. "When it comes to Whitman and Poizner, you have to ask, 'What did they do?' and 'Do you regret what you did?' "
The bipartisan money picture reflects more than just the rise of social moderates, who some say are the only Republicans who can win statewide office in Democrat-heavy California.
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