On Tuesday, California Republicans elected former eBay CEO Meg Whitman
to run for governor and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina to run
for senator. Whitman will face former Governor Jerry Brown and Fiorina
will face incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer in the general elections in
November. Here's what to watch for as these two high-profile California
- Running GOP in California Isn't Easy The
Washington Post's Harold Meyerson explains,
"California Republican primaries have a nasty habit of rendering their
winners unelectable in November, and this year's contest looks like it
will be no exception. To win, Whitman and Fiorina -- conventional
conservative business Republicans both -- had to take positions so far
to the right that their chances of winning a state in which Barack Obama
commands a 59 percent approval rating are slim. ... There's a reason
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only Republican elected to a major
statewide office in California since 1994 -- and it's not his celebrity
status. It's because, when he was first elected governor, he did not
have to run in and win a Republican primary: He was elected in a special
recall election open to candidates and voters from all parties."
- ...But This
Time Could Be Different The San Francisco Chronicle's Debra Saunders says that California Republicans
have, for once, selected the moderate Republicans rather than "voting
lemming-like for the most conservative, unelectable contenders." Though
Saunders reiterates "doubts about the electability of Whitman and
Fiorina" due to lack of experience, she thinks both races are real
fights, especially the Senate competition.
- More Gaffes From
Fiorina? The New York Daily News' Leo Standora reports, "Carly
Fiorina spent her first day as California's Republican U.S. Senate
candidate with one of her custom shoes planted firmly in her mouth.
Unaware of an open mic before a television interview on Wednesday,
Fiorina mocked rival Sen. Barbara Boxer's hair, complained about
Fox-TV's Sean Hannity and grumbled about Election Night cheeseburgers.
Laughing, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO told staffers someone had seen
Boxer on television and 'said what everyone says, 'God, what is that
hair?' So yesterday!'" Steve Benen points out
this is not Fiorina's first gaffe. Benen has the video.
Race All About Restoring California Greatness The L.A. Times' Michael Rothfield previews the race:
"On the core issue facing California -- finances -- the two agree in
principle that the state must rein in spending. But that is where the
similarities are likely to end. ... In the state's moderate middle,
where the election will be won, the result may depend on who is
perceived as most able to restore the lifestyle and promise that made
California great: whether Brown is seen as a progressive visionary or a
status quo politician kowtowing to tax-consuming liberal interests, and
whether Whitman is seen as a no-nonsense manager who can impose
discipline on a government out of control or a lackey of business at the
expense of the average citizen."
- Silicon Valley's Role
Salon's Dan Gillmor writes that both Whitman and Fiorina "came to
great public visibility -- and wealth -- in the technology world. They
represent elements of a Silicon Valley culture that was most evident
during the bubble years of the late 1990s. The culture had evolved by
then. Getting rich was always a motivation for people in the tech
industry, but so was innovation and competition that could be fierce yet
fair. ... But my chief recollection of Whitman was her participation in
the culture of greed that overcame Silicon Valley. ... Fiorina, for her
part, was part of an ascendant valley culture of a different kind. She
wasn't as terrible a CEO of Hewlett-Packard as her critics maintained,
but her pay certainly dwarfed her performance. The board had ample
reason to force
her out in 2005, and her platinum parachute of more than $20
million made more than a few admirers of the old HP gag even though it
had become (and remains) a too-standard practice in corporate America.
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