The political spotlight falls today on the California Senate race as President Obama travels to Los Angeles to raise money for Sen. Barbara “Don’t Call Me, Ma’am” Boxer (D) and the Democratic National Committee.
If the GOP is going to recapture control of the Senate in November, it is going to have to win in Blue States like California.
But as the LA-bound Adam Nagourney pointed out recently in the New York Times, “before Republicans get a clear shot at Mrs. Boxer, they will have to overcome deep divisions within their own party — divides that reflect both the grass-roots energy surging through the conservative movement and the tensions between the party’s moderate and conservative wings.”
The three Republicans vying for a chance to take on Boxer are: Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard; Tom Campbell, a law professor and former congressman; and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore the self-described “toast of the Tea Partiers.”
Boxer was re-elected in 2004 by 20 points but this time finds herself in a potentially competitive race. According to a non-partisan Field Poll conducted last month, Boxer was running even with Campbell and Fiorina: (Campbell 44, Boxer 43) (Boxer 45, Fiorina 44).
Campbell, who supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage, believes that his moderate-to-liberal social profile would allow him to turn a race with Boxer into a fight over who is tougher on spending. The problem for Campbell, however, is that his stances on abortion and marriage and previous support for permitting localities to experiment with the distribution of heroin could keep him from capturing the nomination. He is also potentially vulnerable in the GOP primary on the tax issue having favored higher state taxes to resolve the state’s budget gap.
Fiorina is able to invest her own resources into a Senate race but will be attacked relentlessly in a general election by the well-funded Boxer for having received a $21 million “golden parachute” following her departure from Hewlett Packard.
DeVore has the backing of Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and the Tea Party Express PAC, but as a down-the-line conservative, Boxer would portray him as out of step with California.