Calif. GOP looks to 2010 races for gov., US Senate - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Calif. GOP looks to 2010 races for gov., US Senate

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Former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman speaks at a news conference at the California Republican Convention in Indian Wells, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009. Whitman is seeking the Rep nomination for Governor of California.(AP Photo/Francis Specker) Former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman speaks at a news conference at the California Republican Convention in Indian Wells, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009. Whitman is seeking the Rep nomination for Governor of California.(AP Photo/Francis Specker)
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) -- The Republican race to challenge liberal stalwart Barbara Boxer for her U.S. Senate seat next year is shaping up as a likely contest between a socially conservative state lawmaker and a former Silicon Valley chief executive whose views are barely known to GOP voters in the state.

Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive and John McCain confidante, is not yet an official candidate, but she has registered a campaign committee, "Carly for California," and her team had a strong presence at this weekend's statewide party convention at a desert resort near Palm Spring.

Fiorina, who is in the final stages of treatment for breast cancer, did not attend.

Her GOP rival, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Irvine, a military officer and businessman who has already spent months working to secure the party's base, told delegates Sunday that he is eager to have the competition, but now is not the time to go with a political neophyte.

"We don't know where she stands on a lot of issues," said DeVore, 47. "We do know: She supported the bailout; I didn't. She supported aspects of the stimulus. I have been vociferously opposed to it."

"Now is the time to go with principle, now is the time to go with tested," he said.

Still, DeVore's critique was relatively gentle. He said recent polls show them virtually even in a theoretical matchup against Boxer.

Republicans have long targeted the liberal senator and hope the seat is more vulnerable this year as they seek to capitalize on anti-tax protests and growing national conservative anger over President Barack Obama's health care proposals in 2010.

Boxer, a Democrat who has been a leading voice on women's issues, is in her third term in the Senate and easily won re-election in 1998 and 2004, but has never faced a female opponent in the general election.

Fiorina also brings a big bank account and wealthy Silicon Valley friends, although it is unclear how much of her own money she intends to spend.

"There's one thing all Republicans are united behind, and that's getting rid of Barbara Boxer," said Beth Miller, a spokeswoman for Fiorina. "Barbara Boxer is a menace and needs to go. She is not good for California."

Miller said Fiorina, 54, has no timeline for an official announcement.

Fiorina's campaign was mocked for a Web site unveiled ahead of the convention featuring the slogan, "Carlyfornia Dreamin.'" It showed images of cats and dogs, but did not include a biography of the would-be candidate. There was a link for donors to contribute.

Miller said the site was intended as a brief introduction to Fiorina and to draw traffic to the site - which it did.

A spokeswoman for Boxer, Rose Kapolczynski, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Sunday. Boxer, 68, told Democrats at their party convention in the spring that she will be ready for what could be her toughest race yet.

The Senate race was just one of several 2010 contests the Republicans contemplated during their three-day meeting.

Most of the attention was on the three GOP gubernatorial candidates: former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and former five-term congressman Tom Campbell.

Whitman tried to deflect attention away from her spotty voting record, after The Sacramento Bee reported that there was no evidence she had ever registered to vote before 2002 and that she had not registered as a Republican until 2007.

The billionaire former CEO repeatedly refused to answer questions about her voting record during a heated exchange with reporters Saturday, instead repeating a previously released apology in which she said there were no excuses for her failure to vote.

Fiorina also has been criticized for failing to vote several times. Miller said she regrets not voting, but she has always been a registered Republican.

Delegates also voted Sunday to oppose an open primary measure on the June 2010 ballot, in which the top two vote-getters proceed to a runoff, regardless of party affiliation. The measure is unpopular with both the leading political parties, because it is seen as potentially diminishing their influence. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to campaign on behalf of the initiative.

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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