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RealClearPolitics Politics Nation Blog

 

Blog Home Page --> Senate -- California

Similar Challenges In Bicoastal Senate Races

They're running on different party lines and in states on opposite sides of the country, but Carly Fiorina and Elaine Marshall now find themselves in similar situations -- challenging an incumbent and coming off competitive primary campaigns that have put them at significant financial disadvantages.

Fiorina, a California Republican, and Marshall, a Democrat in North Carolina, are running in states that often tilt toward the opposite party, yet they're also up against senators that are polling poorly and considered vulnerable. Still, unlike the two challengers, fundraising reports released last week show both Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) have had the luxury of saving up their money to unleash over the last several months.

While Fiorina was battling two others in the June 8 GOP primary, Sen. Barbara Boxer was hosting the president for fundraisers in L.A. and San Francisco. She raised an impressive $4.6 million from April through June, and over a six-week period from May 20 to June 30, Boxer collected $2.6 million and began July with $11.3 million on hand.

In the same time period, Fiorina raised $1.4 million. After the primary, however, her coffers dwindled and by the end of June had just less than $1 million left. The primary also forced Fiorina to loan her campaign $5.5 million, something she never planned on doing.

Her campaign isn't completely shutting the door on the possibility of Fiorina loaning more of her personal money for the general election, but at this point that is not part of the equation.

Continue reading "Similar Challenges In Bicoastal Senate Races" »

Boxer Rakes It In For Tough Re-election

By Kyle Trygstad

On the same day that the Cook Political Report moved the California Senate race into its Toss Up column, Sen. Barbara Boxer announced raising $4.6 million in the second quarter, possibly the largest take by any Senate candidate in the country.

The three-month haul from April through June leaves the three-term Democrat with $11.3 million in the bank. That's about $10.7 million more than Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, who earlier announced $620,000 in cash on hand.

"There's no denying that we're starting, and will probably continue to be, at a significant cash disadvantage to Boxer," Fiorina spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote in a memo to reporters. However, Saul adds, Fiorina raised $1.4 million over the last six weeks following an expensive and competitive primary, during which Fiorina loaned her campaign more than $5 million.

Boxer had no such impediment to her cash haul and also received a couple fundraising visits from President Obama. Still, the Cook crew believe money will not be an issue over the last three-plus months of the campaign:

"Given Fiorina's strengths as a candidate and her ability to put some personal money into the race, combined with the national political environment and California's beleaguered economy that has voters clamoring for change, this contest is shaping up to be one of the most competitive of the cycle. While Fiorina still has a lot to prove, the race moves to the Toss Up column."

That's a big move in the Democratic-leaning state, which Barack Obama won in 2008 by a 61 percent to 37 percent margin. Spending twice as much as her challenger in 2004, Boxer won her last election by 20 points.

The Boxer campaign has long been preparing for a competitive fight, and her fundraising numbers bear that out. Boxer leads by 3 points in the RealClearPolitics average, and, like Cook, RCP rates the race as a Toss Up.

CA Sen: Fiorina Wins, Boxer Ready

By Kyle Trygstad

Republican voters in California left no doubt who they prefer to take on three-term Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in the general election -- Carly Fiorina. The former Hewlett Packard chief executive won a crowded primary with 56 percent of the vote, with her next closest challenger, former congressman Tom Campbell, taking just 22 percent.

"For 28 long years in Washington, Barbara Boxer has led our state and our nation down a path toward higher taxes, greater regulation and less economic growth," Fiorina said last night. "But this year, we have a unique opportunity to defeat her so that we can take our government in a different direction."

Without major primary opposition, Boxer was able to stuff her coffers with cash, including two visits from President Obama. Her campaign was simply waiting for the long, testy GOP primary to conclude so it could set its sights on one person. Now it's "game on," as Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski said last night.

"Starting tonight, the Boxer campaign will begin a new effort to reach out to voters about what is at stake in this election and the record, positions and priorities of Carly Fiorina and Barbara Boxer," Kapolczynski said in a memo to reporters. "Tonight we also have invited Fiorina to join us in publicly debating the many important issues facing California and our nation. We are ready to start meeting immediately to discuss mutually acceptable arrangements."

The Boxer campaign is also ready to get out in front of any negative attacks thrown their way by Fiorina, and surely to send some back her way. The Boxer campaign has installed a fact-checking section on its web site and a place where voters can learn all about Fiorina's positions.

"Our supporters are energized and organized, and we are all looking forward to a vigorous campaign on the road to victory in November," said Kapolczynski.

The national parties also immediately weighed in on the race. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez noted that Fiorina "nearly drove Hewlett-Packard into the ground, laying-off 32,000 workers and outsourcing many jobs, but still collected a $42 million golden parachute." His Republican counterpart, John Cornyn, said in her nearly three decades in Washington, Boxer "has championed reckless spending in Washington."

The latest poll, conducted two weeks ago by the L.A. Times and U.S.C., found Boxer leading 44-38 percent. RCP currently rates this race Lean Democrat.

California Candidates Mobilizing For Senate, Gov Races

President Obama made his second trip to California on Barbara Boxer's behalf in as many months Tuesday, raising a total of $1.7 million for the senator's campaign and the DSCC at three stops in the Bay Area.

"I don't travel for just anybody," the president said at one of those events. "But when it comes to Barbara Boxer I'm a lot like you - when she calls and says she needs help, we're gonna give her some help."

Though she does not yet know who her Republican opponent will be, Boxer -- who also faces a primary challenge from liberal blogger Mickey Kaus -- knows this race will be one of her toughest yet. And given the cost of running a California campaign, particularly when one potential foe is capable of dipping into her personal fortune, Boxer is taking nothing for granted. Through the first quarter of 2010, she had nearly four times as much cash on hand as her potential foes.

"They have Sarah Palin," Boxer said, alluding to the former Alaska governor's endorsement of Carly Fiorina, but also the GOP as a whole. "We have the man I'm going to bring on stage right now. My friend, my pal. This is the second trip he's made for me."

Boxer's fate may prove to be indicative of just how deep the Democratic losses are in November. If she loses, Republicans are likely closing in on returning to parity in the Senate after being down 20 seats until this January. But if she wins, the GOP would have to run the table in every single other contest to even come close.

Continue reading "California Candidates Mobilizing For Senate, Gov Races" »

CA Sen: Huckabee Endorses DeVore

California Sen. Barbara Boxer may have President Obama's fundraising abilities on her side, but GOP hopeful Chuck DeVore now has the backing of the man who nearly ran against Obama in 2008.

The DeVore campaign announced today the endorsement of Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and a candidate for president in 2008.

"Chuck DeVore has a clear pro-life record," Huckabee said in a press release. "We need people like Chuck Devore in the U.S. Senate because he'll work to bring some common sense back to Washington."

Huckabee is just one of the potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates who are working to help Republicans in the 2010 midterms. Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have all endorsed candidates as they gear up for possible bids of their own.

This endorsement comes with a pledge from Huckabee's political action committee for financial assistance. With the June 8 primary just six weeks away, fundraising help is something DeVore desperately needs against former Rep. Tom Campbell and establishment-backed Carly Fiorina.

"Support from Huck PAC's motivated network of grassroots activists will be essential in winning this primary -- and defeating Barbara Boxer in November," said DeVore.

HuckPAC has endorsed candidates in 22 states, and promises to "promote their campaigns and financially support their efforts."

Slipping In Polls, Boxer Gets A Presidential Boost

Much remains on his agenda, but President Obama is now en route to California for a two-day political trip benefiting one of the Democratic caucus' potentially vulnerable incumbents, Barbara Boxer.

Recent polling shows Boxer's potential Republican opponents pulling closer and closer. More importantly perhaps is the fact that the three-term incumbent now consistently polls in the low-to-mid 40s, an ominous sign for anyone seeking re-election, especially a Democrat in this headwind. RCP recently shifted the California Senate race into the "Toss Up" category.

But national Democrats say they remain bullish about Boxer's chances, owing to the strength of her campaign in the early going. Boxer has $8.7 million dollars on hand as of the end of the first quarter of 2010, having brought in $2.4 million from January through March. That's far more than any of the Republicans, who must still battle each other for nearly two more months.

As for her polling weaknesses, a Democratic campaign official said simply, "It is not a good time to be apart of Washington. It is very much an anti-Washington time," pointing to the Republicans who also face challenges - many within their own party. In addition to her own aggressive campaign, Democrats point to the weakness of the GOP field as reason for their optimism.

Continue reading "Slipping In Polls, Boxer Gets A Presidential Boost" »

CA Sen: Boxer Raises $2.4M In 1stQ

California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) raised $2.4 million in the first three months of 2010 and boosted her cash-on-hand to $8.7 million, her campaign announced this morning.

Without a competitive primary race, Boxer has been able to mostly hole away her dough, saving $1.5 million of her first quarter fundraising. Meanwhile three Republicans -- former Rep. Tom Campbell, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, and State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore -- battle it out for the chance to take her on.

Campbell announced last week a $1.6 million first quarter haul. He's so far the only Republican to release fundraising numbers, which are due to the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.

Boxer is running for her fourth term in office, and at this point holds small leads over all three Republicans in the RCP polling averages. She also led a generic Republican 48%-34% in a USC/L.A. Times poll last week.

CA Sen: Campbell Leads GOP Primary Field

In the race for only a week, former congressman Tom Campbell has taken the lead in the Senate Republican primary in California. According to a new Field Poll (Jan. 5-17, 958 LV, MoE +/- 3.3%), Campbell jumps out front against previous front-runner Carly Fiorina, while conservative Assemblyman Chuck DeVore trails by a significant margin.

Campbell 30
Fiorina 25
DeVore 6
Und 39

Matched up against Sen. Barbara Boxer in the general election, all three Republicans trail the three-term senator by double digits. Campbell is the only candidate that keeps Boxer under 50% support.

Boxer 48 - Campbell 38 - Und 14

Boxer 50 - Fiorina 35 - Und 15

Boxer 51 - DeVore 34 - Und 15

In October, Fiorina trailed by a similar 49%-35% margin, as did DeVore, whom Boxer led then 50%-33%.

The three Republicans remain mostly unknown to Californians, with at least a third of voters saying they have no opinion about them. The Fiorina campaign, out with a statement before the poll was released, chalks up Campbell's lead to his high name recognition, though it's fairly similar to Fiorina's.

"Once voters learn that Tom has spent the last five years supporting increased government spending, higher taxes and now refuses to commit to not voting for more tax increases in the Senate we expect his numbers to fall fast," said Fiorina's deputy campaign manager Julie Soderlund.
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Mass. Win Ripples Through Blue State Races

I wrote today about the repercussions of Republican Scott Brown's Senate seat win yesterday in Massachusetts. Here is an excerpt:

Just two people -- John F. Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy -- had been elected in the last 58 years to the Massachusetts Senate seat Republican Scott Brown won yesterday. The seat's legacy and Democrats' dominance in the state were no match, however, for the lethal mix of Brown's message and a poorly run campaign by Democrat Martha Coakley, as well as a shifting public mood.

The upset, which political analyst Stuart Rothenberg called the biggest of his adult life, follows Republican wins in the New Jersey and Virginia governor's races last year -- all three states voted convincingly for Barack Obama in 2008. The Massachusetts loss threatens to derail an already-stalled agenda, especially health care reform, which the House and Senate have struggled to negotiate and national polling shows is unpopular.

It also could spell trouble for Democrats in the midterm elections in November, even in states with similar political leanings as Massachusetts -- states such as New York and California, where Democratic senators are fighting to keep their seats.

Read the rest here.

CA Sen: Boxer Sub-50%

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is polling under 50% in a new Rasmussen poll (Jan. 14, 500 LV, MoE +/- 4.5%), which finds her leading three potential Republicans in general election matchups. Ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina and ex-Rep. Tom Campbell, who just joined the race, perform nearly identical against Boxer, while conservative Assemblyman Chuck DeVore is just 6 points back.

Boxer 46 - Fiorina 43 - Und 8

Boxer 46 - Campbell 42 - Und 9

Boxer 46 - DeVore 40 - Und 10

Boxer, running for her fourth term, fails to exceed 46% against any of the three Republicans -- not a good sign for any incumbent. Forking out $14 million in 2004, Boxer doubled her opponent's spending and won by 20 points. The seat hasn't been held by a Republican in 42 years.

Differing Reactions To Campbell's CA Senate Bid

Former congressman Tom Campbell decided to run for Senate this week after dropping his bid for governor. There are a few Republicans awaiting him in the primary race, including Carly Fiorina -- the establishment-backed candidate -- and Chuck DeVore, the Southern California state Assemblyman.

Check out their statements to see the differing reactions of the two campaigns -- with Fiorina's negative and DeVore's positive. The reasoning: Campbell has won election to Washington before and will be targeting Fiorina in particular; meanwhile, the DeVore camp can hope Campbell and Fiorina blast each other enough over the next few months that he rises from the rubble as the victor.

Continue reading "Differing Reactions To Campbell's CA Senate Bid" »

Fiorina: Boxer Can't Count On Women's Vote Against Me

Carly Fiorina defended her assertion that her gender makes her the stronger Republican candidate to face Barbara Boxer next fall, arguing that she can the stronger appeal to women voters on economic issues.

"Barbara Boxer - and in some cases the Democratic Party - has taken the women's vote for granted because they have assumed that all women are single-issue voters," Fiorina said in an interview with Real Clear Politics Monday afternoon. "Women are the majority of voters in this country, and they care about economic issues just as much as men do. Barbara Boxer does not have anything to say about economic issues. I do."

In a gathering with reporters earlier Monday, Fiorina reportedly said that Boxer relished a race against Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. "With all due respect and deep affection for white men, I am married to one. But [Boxer] knows how to beat them in California, she has done it over and over and over again," she argued. DeVore, running as a conservative insurgent in the race against the NRSC-backed Fiorina, later responded saying he "thought we moved beyond the politics of gender when Obama beat Clinton."

Speaking with RCP, Fiorina said she and DeVore have some similarities, and "share many conservative values." But, "I just bring a different set of experiences to Washington than he would. And I talked about all of that, but I also made the comment that Barbara Boxer as a candidate has in many ways taken the women's vote for granted in all of her bids for election or re-election. And as a woman candidate, she will not be able to do that running against me."

Continue reading "Fiorina: Boxer Can't Count On Women's Vote Against Me" »

California Senate: The Next NY-23?

Carly Fiorina's nascent Senate campaign won the public backing Thursday of eight Republican senators, whose personal politics run the gamut on the GOP political spectrum. The early endorsements from the senators could serve as a boon to Fiorina's credentials. It could also further drive a wedge between the national party and conservatives who feel the party is turning its back on them.

The senators, some of whom are reportedly hosting a fundraiser for her in Washington later this month, include the GOP's 2008 presidential nominee and the Senate's minority leader and whip: John McCain (Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (Maine).

Fiorina's endorsement by Coburn -- a celebrated conservative for his demand for fiscal discipline in Congress -- particularly stands out, and perhaps could be a bridge Fiorina needs to the conservative wing of her party.

"One of Carly's greatest strengths is that she has never served in elected office," Coburn said, according to a press release from the Fiorina campaign. "Carly's common sense and fiscal conservatism will be a welcome addition to the United State Senate."

However, some grassroots conservatives around the country have already begun supporting California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, Fiorina's more-conservative primary opponent. DeVore, in an interview with RealClearPolitics, said the opinions of elected officials from inside the Beltway will hardly make a difference in the race.

"It's not surprising at all to me that the Republican establishment would come in behind her," said DeVore, who claims the support of 60 percent of Republican state office holders. "The only surprise I have is that it wasn't more than eight."

DeVore said he represents a "principled Republicanism," unlike some of the senators who supported Fiorina.

Although Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the committee would not spend money in contested Republican primaries, it is promoting fundraisers for select candidates, including Fiorina and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. Also, the Associated Press reported today that the NRSC is hosting a fundraiser for an Arkansas Senate candidate, State Sen. Gilbert Baker, who has six primary opponents.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) endorsed DeVore earlier this week, adding to his activity in contested primaries. DeMint was also an early endorser of Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate race. Rubio is taking on Crist, who was endorsed by the NRSC and Senate leadership minutes after officially entering the race.

The primary race has already become reminiscent of one that ended badly for the party this week. Republicans suffered an awkward defeat Tuesday in the special election for New York's 23rd District, where the national party initially supported the Republican nominee while conservatives from around the country backed Doug Hoffman, who was running on the Conservative Party line.

The Club for Growth, which offered considerable financial assistance to Hoffman, has not decided whether it will endorse a candidate in the California Senate race, or whom it would endorse if it does. The organization, which demands fiscal conservatism in its candidates, has already announced it will not be backing other establishment-supported Senate candidates, including Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.).

Fiorina Enters California Senate Race

As expected, Carly Fiorina is running for Senate in California. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO and 2008 surrogate for John McCain will face conservative Assemblyman Chuck DeVore in the GOP primary before she gets a chance at Sen. Barbara Boxer (D).

In an op-ed in the Orange County Register today, Fiorina said her motivation to enter the race is that "the decisions made by the Senate impact every family and every business, of any size, in America."

"Our most pressing problems today are too few jobs for Americans and too much spending in Washington," Fiorina wrote. "As California's senator, economic recovery and fiscal accountability will be my priorities."

Fiorina opened her op-ed with an explanation of her spotty voting record, which has dogged her campaign even before she officially entered the race. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in June that Fiorina voted in just one-in-four local, state and national elections in the Bay Area since 2000.

"Admittedly, I have not always been engaged in the electoral process, and I should have been," writes Fiorina, who also discussed her voting record, along with taxes and abortion, in an interview with a California Republican blog.

Although Fiorina will be well-funded, she does not have a clear path to the general election. DeVore, who will challenge her on conservative principles, was endorsed yesterday by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). This is DeMint's latest foray into a 2010 Senate GOP primary -- he also endorsed Marco Rubio in Florida, instead of party favorite Gov. Charlie Crist.

However, Fiorina will also get be getting some help from the party establishment, as The Hill reports she will attend a Washington fundraiser hosted by a number of senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and McCain.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee isn't waiting for the primary to conclude to begin knocking Fiorina's credentials. In a statement released this morning, DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz indicates which angle the committee will take against her.

"The hallmark of Carly Fiorina's resume is her tenure at Hewlett-Packard where she laid-off 28,000 Americans while shipping jobs overseas - just before taking a $21 million golden parachute," said Schultz. "Given that record, the United States Senate is the last place Carly Fiorina should go next."

CA Sen Poll: Boxer Up By Double-Digits

California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) leads her two potential Republican challengers by double digits, a new Field Poll finds (Sept. 18-Oct. 6, 1005 RV, MoE +/- 3.2%).

In the Republican primary, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina leads Assemblyman Chuck DeVore by just 1 point, with nearly six-in-ten primary voters undecided. Neither is well known around the state, as 72% have no opinion of Fiorina and 82% no opinion of DeVore.

GOP Primary
Fiorina 21
DeVore 20
Und 59

General Election Matchups
Boxer 49
Fiorina 35
Und 16

Boxer 50
DeVore 33
Und 17

DSCC: Carly Is Dreamin'

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee just launched a web site that mocks the newly-launched web site of presumed California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina. As I wrote Tuesday, Fiorina's site was met with ridicule by the liberal netroots community, and CNN later reported that online conservatives -- who support her primary opponent, Chuck DeVore -- offered a similar reaction.

Now the DSCC is jumping in the mix, with a site that looks nearly identicial to Fiorina's. On her site, phrases flashing across the screen state: "It's day & night. It's dogs & cats. It's good & bad. It's Carly vs. Boxer. Coming soon?" Followed by the tag line, "Carlyfornia Dreamin'!!!"

The DSCC's site, CarlyIsDreamin.com, states in similar flashing form: "It's being the CEO & getting fired. It's being incompetent & escaping with millions. It's success & failure. No, it's just failure. Carlyfornia is dreamin!!!"

I suppose Fiorina's site has done at least one thing for her candidacy -- it's got people talking about her.

DSCC_Mocks_Fiorina.jpg

Rasmussen: Parties Hold Seats In CA, OH and NY

Rasmussen continues its polling of potential 2010 Senate battlegrounds, with new data in California, Ohio and New York. In each race, the incumbent party holds the advantage.

Ohio Senate
(9/23, 500 LVs, MoE +/- 4.5 percent)
Portman (R) 41 - Fisher (D) 40 - Und 14
Portman (R) 40 - Brunner (D) 38 - Und 18

New York Senate
(9/22, 500 LVs, MoE +/- 4.5 percent)
Gillibrand (D) 44 - Pataki (R) 41 - Und 4

California Senate
(9/23; 500 LVs, MoE 4.5 percent)
Boxer (D) 49 - Fiorina (R) 39 - Und 8
Boxer (D) 46 - DeVore (R) 37 - Und 10

Are Whitman and Fiorina California Dreamin'?

Two wealthy California businesswomen took steps toward running for office this week. Neither is a newcomer to politics, exactly, but Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina have never run for public office before.

Ms. Whitman, the billionaire former chief executive of eBay, formally announced her campaign Tuesday to replace outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The same day, Ms. Fiorina, a former Hewlett Packard CEO, launched her Senate campaign Web site as she aims to knock off Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, though Ms. Fiorina still hasn't officially announced her candidacy.

Both former CEOs are facing competitive primaries that both are currently favored to win. Ms. Whitman will have to beat out state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and former Rep. Tom Campbell; Ms. Fiorina will likely face Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. Awaiting Ms. Whitman in the general election will be either Attorney General (and former Gov.) Jerry Brown or San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

In Orange County on Tuesday, Ms. Whitman said her goal was to create two million new jobs in the state by 2015, while cutting the state budget and trimming the state workforce by 40,000 employees. Both of her primary opponents criticized Ms. Whitman's lack of details; at the same time, Ms. Fiorina was criticized by Democrats for her Web site's lack of substance and odd messaging, including the tagline, "Carlyfornia Dreamin'."

Both women were outspoken supporters of John McCain's presidential campaign, which didn't perform well in the state. Barack Obama won by 24 points, after George W. Bush lost the state by 10 and 11 points in the previous two elections. Ms. Whitman brings considerable wealth to the table, but lacks the star power of the current governor. Ms. Fiorina has the added challenge of facing a three-term senator coming off a 20-point victory in 2004.

Carlyfornia Dreamin'

Although she has yet to formally announce a bid for Senate in California, Carly Fiorina, the former HP CEO, has just launched her campaign website.

It includes the tagline: "Carlyfornia Dreamin' "

Upon entering the page, a series of phrases flash across the screen: "It's day & night. It's dogs & cats. It's good & bad. It's Carly vs. Boxer. Coming soon?"

Fiorina currently has 16 supporters on her Facebook page and 48 followers on Twitter.

The netroots have begun making fun of the site's simplicity, including by releasing this video titled, "Worst Political Website Ever."

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also recently released a web video targeting Fiorina's record. The NRSC responded to the video this morning in a statement to Politico, in which spokesman Brian Walsh said the increased attention the Dems are paying to an unannounced candidate "only speaks to the growing vulnerability of Barbara Boxer."

Fiorina Moves Toward Senate Bid

Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett Packard CEO and economic adviser to 2008 presidential candidate John McCain, took one step closer to making official her bid for the U.S. Senate in California. Fiorina registered a campaign committee -- "Carly for California" -- allowing her to begin raising cash for the 2010 election, AP reports.

In a statement, Fiorina said she had been encouraged to run by "people across the political spectrum" and will begin meeting with policy advisers and financial donors.

"The people of California have serious concerns about job creation, economic growth and the role of government in solving problems that touch each of our lives," she said.

Spokeswoman Beth Miller said Fiorina would not be available Tuesday for an interview, and there was no timetable for making a formal announcement about a Senate bid.

Fiorina, who was known as a powerful and successful businesswoman until her ouster at HP in 2005, was front-and-center as a McCain surrogate last year, making appearances on radio and TV in support of the GOP nominee. That changed, though, when in two mid-September interviews Fiorina said neither John McCain nor Sarah Palin could run a corporation, such as HP.

She's now aiming for the seat of three-term Sen. Barbara Boxer (D). A survey last week from the liberal Daily Kos, conducted by independent pollster Research 2000, found Boxer with a 21-point lead.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee quickly jumped on today's news, issuing a statement criticizing Fiorina's record.

"This is a person who was fired from Hewlett Packard for running the company into the ground, fired from the McCain Presidential Campaign for incompetence, and now thinks the people of California are going to hire her. Carly Fiorina was named one of the twenty worst CEOs in the country yet still escaped with a 21 million dollar golden parachute," said DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz.

CA Gov, Sen: Brown, Boxer With Early Leads

Former governor of California Jerry Brown (D) and incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) currently lead their respective fields in the races for governor and senator of California, according to the latest survey from DailyKos/Research 2000 (Aug 9-12, 600 LV, MoE +/- 4%).

Brown leads San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the Democratic primary and former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman (R) in the general election. Boxer leads former HP CEO Carly Fiorina (R) by a wide margin.

Brown (whose campaign website features a timeline of his political career dating back to 1943) currently serves as state attorney general and was elected governor in 1974. His father, Pat, served two terms as governor of California. Boxer is the junior senator; she's running for her fourth term in the Senate after five terms in the House.

Governor
Dem Primary
Brown 29 - Newsom 20 - Und 51

GOP Primary
Whitman 24 - Campbell 19 - Poizner 9 - Und 48

General Election
Brown 42 - Whitman 36 - Und 22
Whitman 37 - Newsom 36 - Und 27

Senate
GOP Primary
Fiorina 29 - Devore 17 - Und 54

General Election
Boxer 52 - Fiorina 31 - Und 17