Debra J. Saunders

Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund said of Campbell's rival candidacy, "In some way, it helps us define Carly for Republican primary voters because you have Tom Campbell to the far left, Chuck DeVore to the far right, and Carly, who's a mainstream conservative and also the only political outsider in the race." Yeah, sure.

A law school dropout who started as a secretary and rose to become the only female CEO of a Fortune 20 company, Fiorina is a true American success story. On the downside, her tenure at HP was highly controversial, involved layoffs and ended in 2005 with a $21.4 million golden parachute. Like Whitman, Fiorina has no political experience and a spotty voting record.

Until Campbell got into the race, the GOP establishment considered Fiorina, who put $2.5 million of her own money into her campaign, as the candidate who could beat Boxer. Now, the insider consensus is split between Fiorina and Campbell.

DeVore wins the Tea Party endorsement this weekend. Like Fiorina, he signed a no-new-taxes pledge. Like Fiorina, he opposes abortions. He is a happy warrior, and fun to watch. But he refused to vote to confirm Republican Abel Maldonado to fill the vacant lieutenant governor's seat because Maldonado has supported modest tax increases. In choosing to abstain on the Maldonado vote, he somehow managed to be both too cute and too ideologically pure.

Campbell's flaws and strengths are one: He is not your standard political animal. He refused to sign the same no-new-taxes pledge, telling the Sacramento Bee that while he could not imagine voting for any tax increases, he believes in keeping all options open.

He is no a firebrand. You have to remind people he ran against Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2000.

But with his support for same-sex marriage and abortion rights, it should be very difficult for Boxer to paint Campbell as a right-wing fanatic, as she has done in every election since winning her seat in 1992. As Hueter noted, "Tom Campbell could beat Barbara Boxer. Carly Fiorina, probably not."

On Wednesday, Attorney General Jerry Brown, the almost-certain Democratic gubernatorial nominee, addressed the Alliance of California Law Enforcement and signaled how he plans to run against Whitman -- with Wall Street in disrepute, he went after the CEO mentality.

You can see, then, why Whitman might prefer to be the only money honey on the GOP ballot. Likewise, Fiorina. But as the huge sweeps in polling and politics have shown, in six months, the landscape could be entirely different.


Debra J. Saunders


 
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