Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will face Sen. Barbara Boxer in November in a California race that will pit a self-described social and fiscal conservative against one of the Senate’s most committed liberals.
Fiorina advanced to the November election with ease, taking 54 percent in a GOP primary that also included former Rep. Tom Campbell, a moderate who won 26 percent, and state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, a conservative who took 17 percent.
Fiorina ran a well-financed campaign that was funded in large part from her deep pockets. She emphasized a personal background of rising from a secretarial job at HP to becoming its chief executive, and she portrayed Boxer as too liberal even for Democratic-leaning California.
Campbell, who ran for Senate in 1992 and 2000, pointed to surveys that showed him running more competitively against Boxer than the other candidates. DeVore portrayed himself as a more authentic conservative than Fiorina.
Boxer was handily re-elected in 2004, but Republicans think that a turbulent political environment this year makes her vulnerable. They don’t think Fiorina’s opposition to abortion rights will be that much of a handicap in a year in which economic issues are front and center.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the anti-abortion and pro-Fiorina Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement that “Carly Fiorina is helping to usher in the year of the pro-life woman.”
Fiorina and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have already trained their fire on Boxer. In a statement following her victory, Fiorina described Boxer as “a bitter partisan who has said much but achieved little.”
Boxer’s campaign has criticized Fiorina for opposing the stimulus law and other economic strategies promoted by the Obama administration and the Democratic-run Congress. Democrats also will attack Fiorina’s track record at the helm of HP.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (N.J.) said in a statement that Fiorina is “a right-winger out of touch with California’s mainstream electorate,” pointing to her conservative views on abortion, immigration and health care.
Democrats have won seven consecutive Senate elections in California, beginning with the twin 1992 victories of Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
One of three states with two female senators (Maine and Washington are the others), California will for the first time host a Senate race in which the two major-party nominees are women.