California GOP: Conservatism, cash

By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times

In the battle between Tom Campbell and his conservative foes – score one for the foes as the Republican candidates sprint to the finish line and the chance to challenge Democratic stalwart Sen. Barbara Boxer in November.

After months of leading the Republican race for Senate, Mr. Campbell now trails former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina in at least two polls heading into the June 8 primary contest in California. Another candidate, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, remains in third place, albeit with double-digit support.

Mr. Campbell, running as a fiscal conservative and social moderate, has been taking fire on his right flank for weeks. Conservative groups have targeted him for his support of gay marriage, abortion and tax increases. Mrs. Fiorina, who opposes abortion and gay marriage, has raised her own profile in a mid-May television ad blitz.

“I think a lot of people have finally realized that Tom Campbell is not a conservative and barely a Republican,” said California Republican strategist Mike Spence. “People are finally focused on the race, and there’s a growing consensus that Tom Campbell can’t be the Republican nominee.”

Mr. DeVore and Mrs. Fiorina are running as conservatives, but Mrs. Fiorina, a millionaire, has the war chest to promote her candidacy in California’s expensive media markets. She has loaned her campaign $5.5 million to date, while Mr. Campbell has raised $2.6 million and Mr. DeVore $2.3 million, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday.

The contrast was evident two weeks ago. While Mrs. Fiorina was able to air two statewide television ads, the Campbell campaign instead released a mailing, opting to conserve its resources until the final, critical week before the primary.

The Fiorina campaign promotes its cash advantage as a virtue, arguing that she alone among Republican candidates has the money to defeat Mrs. Boxer in November.

“In a state as massive as California, it takes resources to communicate with the voters, and Carly is the only candidate who has that,” said Fiorina spokeswoman Amy Thoma.

Meanwhile, Mr. Campbell made a plea for donations in an e-mail to supporters Sunday, saying they must not “allow this election to be bought.”

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