What's Ahead for Senate, Governor California Races

Republicans Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina enter the fray

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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 races unfold.

  • 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.
  • Gov 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.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.