There are Republicans with better voting records interested in these seats -- Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and former state finance director and Rep. Tom Campbell have begun to campaign for governor -- but former Gov. Pete Wilson and Sen. John McCain of Arizona are backing Whitman.
GOP Assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Irvine is campaigning for Boxer's seat -- yet Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is chatting up Fiorina.
They're going for the sizzle, not the fizzle. As supporters tell me, Californians know who Fiorina and Whitman are. For Poizner, Campbell and DeVore -- it's an uphill climb.
Hoover Institution research fellow Bill Whalen wonders if the unfab three Repubs can raise the money to win in November. The GOP has long considered Boxer beatable but lucky in facing under-funded opponents. In 2004, when Boxer outspent the button-down former Secretary of State Bill Jones two to one, she fared better than the Democratic presidential nominee and Jones fared worse than the top of the GOP ticket, George W. Bush.
Besides, Arnold Schwarzenegger failed to vote in five of the 11 elections before the 2003 gubernatorial recall -- and voters didn't seem to care.
In 2008, Democratic voters went for Sen. Barack Obama, the presidential candidate with less political experience than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, because they wanted change. With Sacramento in meltdown mode, California voters may want more change.
DeVore believes that Cornyn and other GOP biggies are drawn to Fiorina because, as "a telegenic self-funder," she's like an Instant Candidate -- "you just add water." He also sees the influence of "consultative mercenaries" who "create their own candidates" with big checkbooks, then "turn around and work for them."
Oddly, it's the old-hands' campaigns that are arguing that the outsider formula may not work in 2010 -- even in the GOP. Poizner spokesman Jarrod Agen put it this way: "Republicans have seen in recent history someone coming into office with celebrity status, no public experience and disregarding many of the principles of the Republican Party." This go-round, they may not want a rookie.
Pompei argues that Whitman has the best experience -- "creating jobs" as she ushered eBay from a startup to an international institution.
Miller spoke of Fiorina's impressive rise from secretary to CEO. Fiorina, she argued, could bring "a fresh approach, should she decide to run" for the Senate.
It also does not hurt that Whitman and Fiorina are more likely to attract moderate female voters to the GOP. But they'll have to face a hurdle of their own making. As DeVore asked of Fiorina, "Is she going to get out there and aggressively ask voters for their vote?"
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