Monday, November 14, 2005

Another Statewide Candidate?

From today's WSJ Political Journal

The Terminated

She may have been pushed out as Hewlett Packard's CEO earlier this year, but Carly Fiorina is now being touted by some Republicans as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor of California. Some aides to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are seeking to soften his image in the wake of the stinging defeats of his ballot initiatives at the polls last week. Backed by Maria Shriver, the governor's wife, they see Ms. Fiorina as an instant ticket to changing the Republican Party's image in the state and providing the governor with an attractive, moderate running mate as he enters the 2006 election cycle.

The 50-year-old Ms. Fiorina is certainly no political shrinking violet. Earlier this year, she urged the Bush White House to eschew any restrictions on trade, warning they would backfire and damage American competitiveness. "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore," she told a Congressional hearing. "We have to compete for jobs."

There's only one problem with plugging Ms. Fiorina, a political novice, into the lieutenant governor's race. The leading candidate in the GOP primary is State Senator Tom McClintock, a darling of California conservatives, who won rave reviews for his principled race for governor in the 2003 recall election. Trying to muscle Mr. McClintock aside would alienate the conservative voters and volunteers that Mr. Schwarzenegger needs for his own re-election effort. Voter apathy was a primary reason for the drubbing that Mr. Schwarzenegger's reform agenda just suffered at the polls. It might sound like a step down, but perhaps the governor's staff should consider running Ms. Fiorina for another down-ballot race, such as state comptroller or treasurer. Either would provide her with a highly visible platform to showcase her executive and financial skills.

-- John Fund


At 11/14/2005 12:08 PM, Blogger NickM said...

This situation presents some interesting problems in political game theory.

For each election, there are two races to consider: the primary and the general.

The primary for Treasurer would be easy. Fiorina probably already has as much name ID as Parrish or Richman, and her entrance would likely cause others who are considering the race to not get in.

The primary for Controller would be harder, but still quite winnable. Strickland has a larger committed base than Maldonado, but there is serious conservative discontent with him from people who are not happy with how he has played footsie with the unions but will not vote for the backstabbing liberal Maldonado. Strickland is also not that widely known nor a very good fundraiser. Maldonado may bear an appealing profile, but he has a well-desrved reputation for saying he'll vote one way, and then voting the other. It doesn't take much creativity to make effective ads about how CA voters "just can't trust" him.

The primary for Lt. Governor would be winnable, but would be a very tough fight. McClintock has high name ID, strong favorable ratings among GOP primary voters, and a large dedicated base of supporters. Fiorina has the money to very possibly overcome this, but it would end up being an extremely bitter primary, and would likely dispirit many of his supporters from voting for her in the general.

The current Democrat field for Controller is fairly weak. Bustamante has the edge in the primary, being a statewide elected official with high name ID, but is very damaged goods for the general election after his performance during the recall. Frommer appears to be going nowhere in the primary. Chiang is unknown to most voters, and I do not see how he raises the money to change that for the primary. Dunn has the money and background to possibly beat Cruz in June, but the businesswoman vs. trial lawyer contrast in November would be very bad for the Democrats - and CA voters have favored business executives for this office in recent elections. However, Steve Westly could still drop out of the Governor's race and run for reelection. If he does, he becomes a solid favorite to win reelection against anyone.

Bill Lockyer has the Democrat nomination for Treasurer sewn up. He has plenty of money, high name ID, and a lenghty record. He would be a very tough, though certainly not unbeatable, candidate in November.

For Lt. Governor, John Garamendi is a clear favorite over both Jackie Speier and Liz Figueroa. Should he somehow not win the nomination, either of those women would be easy to beat in November (statewide voters will be far less forgiving than Alameda County voters about the fact Figueroa racks up tax liens while sitting in the Legislature, and Speier is easy to portray as far out of the mainstream). Garamendi, however, is probably more battle-tested than even Lockyer, although he may be easier to attack.

The most unusual part of this is that Westly's possible decision to drop out of the Governor's race and run for reelection may be influenced by whether Fiorina runs for Controller - if he knows he will be facing a general election fight with an opponent who can spend as freely as he from personal resources, it may give him the impetus to stay in the Governor's race.

As a Republican activist, it is my hope that Fiorina runs for Treasurer. If I were advising her, I would recommend a race for Controller.

At 11/14/2005 2:15 PM, Blogger The Teflon Pawn said...

I couldn't agree more, I think McClintock is the one Republican running for state-wide election right now that I wouldn't want to mess with. Not too mention that he is one of the better candidates the Republicans have behind the Governor. I hope she decides to run for Treasurer because Republicans need a lot more solid candidate than Parrish or Richman.

At 11/14/2005 3:00 PM, Blogger Roseville Conservative said...

This would ignite a firestorm we really don't need in the GOP.

Right now, I see galvanized Labor unions and Republicans pointing their fingers at each other.

At 11/14/2005 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

how so?

At 11/14/2005 5:16 PM, Anonymous Go_McClintock_Go said...

Great! Just what we need! Carly Fiorina is a female version of C. Montgomery Burns, the evil billionaire from the Simpsons cartoons. Michael Huffington has a better chance of making a political comeback than she has of getting elected dog-catcher.

Does anyone remember Noel Irwin-Hentchel? (She was the last Lt. Gov. candidate in the Republican primary with more money than sense.)

At 11/14/2005 7:16 PM, Anonymous Chad Morgan said...

I saw her speak at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas about a month before she was canned at HP. She was very unimpressive in a place where she should've shone.

It is one thing to run a successful company and then run for is another to almost run a successful company into the ground and run for office.

HP is still struggling to recover from her reign of terror. She should take her $20 million severance and retire to Hawaii with Chuck Quackenbush.

At 11/15/2005 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conservatives are getting it backwards. McClintock is a lightning rod (conservatives love him, liberals hate him) who is respected by everyone for being honest and frugal financially. My sources indicate that McClintock is about to drop down to the Treasurers race to take advantage of his fiscal reputation while Fiorina will be unopposed for LG. The hope is that the combination of she and Steve Poizner will give the GOP Silicon Valley support that now goes to Democrats and that will help with younger voters.

At 11/15/2005 4:49 PM, Anonymous Doobie said...


What are you smoking? McClintock doesn't even have an official challenger yet.

Even if he does, he would not abandon his race for Lt. Gov. I don't care what pressure you put on him. He didn't drop out of the recall campaign. Why would he step down?

At 11/21/2005 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe her financial and executive skills are considerable :-)

At 11/21/2005 10:02 AM, Anonymous Tom Fox said...

If the Republicans do not rally behind McClintock, Conservatives will wander away from the party. The gap between conservatives and Republicans is growing as the Republicans continute to look more like Democrats. It is disheartening.

At 11/21/2005 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS PEOPLE THINKING???? Carly Fiorina is the most incompetent executive I had the disfortune to meet. I agee with a previous comment saying that she should retire to Hawaii or maybe buy her own little island with the money that she misappropriated from HP. She ruined the second largest computer manufacturer in the world. Would you like for her to ruin the 7th largest economy in the world? She is definitely up to the task. Think about that Mr. Swarzenneger, please.

At 11/21/2005 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with the previous anonymous posting. I have worked for HP for 17 years during the leadership of 3 CEOs: John Young, the late Lew Platt, and Carly Fiorina. I have never seen anyone so incompetent, so abrasive, and so full of herself as Carly Fiorina. I hope the citizens of California remember her performance as CEO of Hewlett Packard and they don’t make the same mistake that our Board of Directors made by choosing her to (miss)lead HP. I also hope Fiorina has a little bit of decency left on her and turns the invitation down. For the sake of all Californians.


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