PHOTO: Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Sen. John McCain are shown during the 2008 campaign. Fiorina has a huge lead in the GOP Senate primary and is expected to receive the nomination on Tuesday to oppose Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) who is seeking her 4th term.
Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has clearly pulled ahead in the GOP primary for the nomination to oppose Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). The ballotting is on Tuesday, and Fiorina has markedly outspent her primary rivals. This was especially true during the past month and Fiorina has loaned her campaign $5.5 million.
Fiorina’s TV ad campaign has resulted in a significant surge of support. Former Congressman Tom Campbell held the lead for several months, but his campaign collapsed in late May. Fiorina and Campbell were in a statistical tie on May 10th, but by the 24th a KABC/SurveyUSA poll had Fiorina at 46%, Campbell 23% and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore at 11%.
This weeks Los Angeles Times/USC poll shows Fiorina with 38%, Campbell 23% and DeVore at 16%. The survey data shows Campbell defeating Senator Boxer by six points while Fiorina is losing to the incumbent by the same margin.
Campbell’s final TV ad states, “I don’t have millions of dollars of personal wealth to use in my U.S. Senate campaign, but I do have something that neither of my opponents can offer. Let’s not lose this historic opportunity to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer. With your vote, I can do it.”
Fiorina received a $21 million golden parachute when she was fired from Hewlett Packard (HP) in 2005. This warchest paid for her TV advertising campaign, which will be the key to her nomination on Tuesday.
The former HP CEO is completely new to politics and has made several rookie mistakes. For example, she suggested California file for bankruptcy which is not legally possible.
Fiorina’s credibility was damaged when it was revealed she had voted only six times in her adult life, and this will certainly be repeated by Boxer in the general election. Fiorina’s TV ads portray her as a successful business leader and this will also become a general election issue. Boxer will repeat the same charge made by Fiorina’s primary opponents — HP stock fell 50% during Fiorina’s tenure.
The surge in the Fiorina campaign began in the first week of May. That was when Fiorina was endorsed by former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and she gave her best performance in a debate.
The most significant factors were the two positive Fiorina TV ads which began airing on May 3rd and May 6th. One demonstrated how Fiorina would be superior to Boxer in “making Washington work for California.” The other was called “Jobs,” and it said Fiorina would do a better job in stimulating the economy.
Fiorina knew she would far outspend Campbell, and she made Boxer her focus rather than the former Congressman. Throughout May, Campbell repeatedly canceled his TV ads because of a lack of funds.
Former Rep. Tom Campbell
Campbell switched from the Governor’s race to the Senate contest on January 14th. He raised $1 million as a gubernatorial candidate and received an instant financial boost in late January and February. His fundraising was never able to compete with Fiorina after that time. Campbell was able to dominate the polls and the campaign until the Fiorina surge began in May.
In the GOP candidate forums, Campbell has had the most polished debating style. He is a former State Senator, served nine years in the U.S. House and was Budget Director for outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).
Campbell is in the mold of GOP Governors Pete Wilson, George Deukmejian and Schwarzenegger. He is moderate on social issues (he supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage), but a fiscal conservative. This has been a winning formula for the California GOP in the past two decades.
William Bradley of NewWestNotes.com says that despite the early polls, “Campbell was never a particularly strong candidate in the Republican primary. He isn’t much of a moderate in reality, but in GOP primary terms, especially this year, he was too much of one.”
In a statement today Campbell said:
This past weekend’s Los Angeles Times/USC poll shows me beating Senator Barbara Boxer 45%-38%. It also shows Carly Fiorina losing to Senator Boxer by six points, 38% to 44%. Those differences are huge, and far outside the margin of error. Getting Boxer out of the Senate should be the paramount objective for voters in the Republican primary, since we can’t take back the U.S. Senate unless Boxer goes. Carly Fiorina can’t defeat her; I can.
“It’s true I have a more libertarian view on some social issues. But the contrast between myself and Senator Boxer is stark. Carly Fiorina’s dubious and self-serving claim that I differ little from Boxer is easily refuted, as the Los Angeles Daily News, one of the eleven newspapers that have endorsed me in this race, noted on Friday. “Fiorina has called Campbell a liberal. That’s a view we don’t share. Campbell is absolutely a fiscal conservative.” Carly Fiorina talks a good game, but she has rarely voted in her adult life and recently told Salon magazine she was a Republican — ‘for now.’
Assemblyman Chuck DeVore
The third candidate in the primary is Assemblyman Chuck DeVore but he is running well behind and has been largely ignored by the front runners. DeVore has been in the race for almost two years but has not been able to raise significant money.
DeVore has a conservative voting record in Sacramento but he also has a libertarian outlook. DeVore and Senator Boxer are both in opposition to President Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan, and the Orange County Assemblyman has frequently attacked George W. Bush rather than Boxer. DeVore is firmly against Bush’s 2008 bank bailout legislation even though over 90% of the money has been repaid with interest and it is difficult to think how our banking system would have survived without the Bush initiative.
The biggest boost to DeVore’s campaign was winning the endorsement of the California Republican Assembly, but some of his remarks to the group were unusual. He attacked Fiorina because she had been a top adviser to McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, and said she was a supporter of the Bush “Wall Street bailout.” DeVore has been endorsed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).
California was a reliably Republican state in presidential politics from World War II through the 1980s, but now it is solidly in Blue America. Democrats have a 1.5 million advantage in voter registration. It has been a long time since a Reagan-style conservative has won statewide, and in presidential terms the GOP has written off California since 1992.
Sen. John McCain received 37% of the vote in 2008 and George W. Bush’s total was 45% in 2004 and 42% in 2000. Sen. Bob Dole received 38% in 1996 and George H.W. Bush got 33% in 1992. Bush did defeat Michael Dukakis in California in 1988.
Barbara Boxer is one of the most liberal members of the Senate, and she advocated a complete withdrawal from Iraq in 2005. She also joined Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) in backing a resolution to censure President George W. Bush.
Matthew Threlfall, a Sacramento realtor active in the GOP says “The best chance to beat Boxer is with Campbel, but as much as I want Boxer gone, I cannot vote for Campbell. He is a fiscal conservative (which we actually need) but he is a social liberal. DeVore cannot beat her in this Blue State, but he is the most conservative. As for Fiorina, maybe!”
Can a Conservative Win in California?
Over the past two decades, California Republicans have nominated many admirable conservatives, but they lost general elections in a landslide. Senator Boxer won her last campaign by 20 points over conservative Secretary of State Bill Jones, and at the same time, Gov. Gray Davis (D) was being re-elected by 19 points over conservative Attorney General Dan Lungren. Every Republican in recent years who has run statewide as a conservative has lost by double digits.
In scoring the debates, Joe Mathews of the New America Foundation says “To his credit, Campbell has clear and rational, and terrific at making Fiorina sound bad by asking pointed questions. But he seems entirely too reasonable and moderate to convince today’s Republican voters to cast their ballots for him.”
Survey data demonstrates nearly three-quarters of the electorate are “yellow-dog” partisans who always vote their parties. The other 25 percent are true independents. They include small numbers of people registered in both parties and the roughly 20 percent who aren’t registered with any party. This year Republicans are once again polling well with independents, and Sen. Boxer is expected to have a hard time reaching moderates in the Fall. She is also expected to emphasize her pro-abortion views which are popular among California voters. Fiorina is pro-life and has been endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee.
Polls Show Campbell Damaged by Israel Stand
In hindsight it is now apparent Campbell was damaged by accusations that he was against Israel. The former Congressman said he was the victim of a “whispering campaign.” According to the Los Angeles Times:
Campbell reiterated his support for Israel, noting that he consistently supported military aid to the nation and flew to Israel as Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was launching Scud missiles at the country during the first Gulf War. He defended a vote against Jerusalem being the nation’s undivided capital, insisting it was part of a Democratic political maneuver to embarrass then-President George H.W. Bush. . .
Fiorina also had to explain her record, specifically the actions of a Hewlett-Packard subsidiary that sold printers to Iran, which is subject to a trade embargo. . . DeVore and Fiorina continued to criticize Campbell’s ties to individuals who donated to a past campaign and, years later, pleaded guilty to or were accused of crimes. The most notable is Sami Al-Arian, a professor who received Campbell’s support when the University of South Florida tried to fire him for expressing unpopular views. DeVore called Campbell ‘a friend to our enemies.’
‘I certainly wish that I had done a better job of finding out who he was at the time,’ Campbell said. ‘I do not think that I deserve the kind of attack, however, that has been launched, that somehow I am a jihadist. That is absurd.
Fiorina claims Campbell voted to “cut aid to Israel.” He actually voted against increasing all foreign aid. He supported the full appropriation for Israel but objected to an increase which was to be taken from funds set aside for the world’s neediest countries. Many people in the national security community believe there is merit to Campbell’s advocacy of Jerusalem as a shared capital.
As far as the campaign contribution from Sami Al-Arian, Campbell said he knew nothing about his terrorist ties. The Los Angeles Times said:
Is Campbell’s explanation credible? His opponents think not, but we’re inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. He was naive, perhaps, and gullible; he certainly shouldn’t have written the letter before gathering the facts. But we find it hard to believe he is a “friend to our foes” who knowingly supported an Islamic Jihad operative.
This is an important subject, and no doubt more will come out in the days ahead. To those who are concerned we say: Ask him. Challenge him. His positions are fair game. So is his judgment. But let’s not allow innuendo, hyperbole and cheap politics to drown out reasonable debate. . . We abhor terrorism and don’t want our leaders palling around with those who engage in it. But we are also convinced that it is possible to criticize Israel without being anti-Zionist. We don’t believe that public officials must be rigidly loyal to a single playbook of ‘pro-Israel’ positions.