Wednesday, June 9, 2010

CA Set for Career Politicians vs. Executive Experience Face-Off in November

Will CA voters shape the focus for the presidential campaign content in 2012?

The primary elections June 8 handed Republicans Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman big wins in California at 56% and 64% of the vote respectively. The general election is set to be a face-off between career politicians and former private sector technology CEOs. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will face 28 year incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) for the California senate seat in November. Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman will face California’s current Attorney General, Former Governor and Former Secretary of State, Edmund Brown, Jr. (Jerry) for the governorship in the mid-term elections. Jerry Brown was the Governor of California from 1975-1983.


Photo by Flickr - MEG WHITMAN
Whitman and Fiorina made GOP history in California being the first time a woman has been the Republican candidate for governor or senator. Whitman also set a record for the most money spent in a primary in California at $80M with $70M coming from her own pocket. She has said she will spend up to another $150M on the general election. Brown is estimated to have $20M and is seeking additional support from independent groups including the powerful public employees union. Fiorina and Boxer are more evenly matched for money with approximately $7M and $10M respectively. All four candidates will continue to receive campaign contributions from all 50 states.


All the candidates came out swinging in their victory reflecting the career politician versus executive experience battleground set-up.


Whitman congratulated Fiorina in her victory speech and jabbed their career politician rivals: “Career politicians in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., be warned – You now face your worst nightmare – two businesswomen from the real world who know how to create jobs, balance budgets, and get things done.”
She threw several punches at Brown notably: “Jerry Brown has spent a lifetime in politics, and the results have not been good.” and “Here’s the really good news: I don’t owe anyone anything. My opponent cannot say that, can he? He has aligned nearly every single interest group in Sacramento against us. And that means favors will be owed to every power broker with a vested interest in keeping our state budget broken, our schools underperforming, and the state pension system spinning into  insolvency.”   

                                      
Photo by Flickr - JERRY BROWN
Brown invoked what he sees as the failure of current Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in his victory speech jab at Whitman with “It’s not enough for someone rich and restless to look in the mirror one morning and decide, ‘I want to be Governor of California.' We tried that. It didn’t work.”

Fiorina continued her anti-incumbent message strategy in her victory speech including “I have heard your message loud and clear: The people of California have had enough. In fact, I think they are hearing you all the way to Washington, D.C.". She continued: “In her 28 years as a career politician in Washington, D.C., Barbara Boxer is a bitter partisan who has said much but accomplished little. She may get an “A” for politics, but she gets an “F” for achievement. For three decades in Congress, Boxer has personified the entrenched, stale arrogance of someone who has long forgotten that here in America, the people rule — not the government. When she dressed down that General in front of the cameras, she displayed all of the destructive elitism so disquieting to the people of California.”


Boxer shot back at Fiorina with "She even opposed a bill that gave a tax break to companies who hire the long-term unemployed." and "When she was the CEO before she got fired, she laid off more than 30,000 workers and shipped jobs to China, to India. She's got a great record on job creation in China and India and Europe, but not in America." Boxer hammers Fiorina with her having fired thousands while running Hewlett-Packard and for being fired by Hewlett-Packard. She characterizes Fiorina as being out of step with mainstream California voters.

  
Photo by Flickr - SENATOR BARBARA BOXER
The California primary, as well as eleven other states, took place as President Obama and Congress’ approval ratings have been steadily going down due to continued high unemployment, spiraling national deficits, and continued voter disagreement with the recent health care reform. Politics as usual in Washington remains unchanged if not on steroids regarding cronyism, special interests, and living in a White Tower. Add to this the daily news photos of wild-life affected by the offshore oil rig disaster and Washington’s seeming inexperience, incompetence, and lack of urgency in managing BP’s response; and voters see great value in executive management experience in their political candidates more and more.


Whitman and Fiorina are poised to be the outsider candidates against the “politics as usual” candidates. They hope to tap into those that are against continuing the liberal Democratic agenda that many feel is not working for California in that it has created a state budget that is bloated, unsustainable, and billions in debt. They will both tout successful executive background and experience in running large enterprise, in balancing large budgets, in cutting cost when necessary, and in understanding how to create jobs. Boxer and Brown will both tout meaningful public service background and experience with an understanding of what is important for California residents and how to work within the political environment to get the job done for them.

Photo by Flickr - CARLY FIORINA
Even with the state budget deficits, Brown, Whitman, and Fiorina have indicated raising taxes is not their answer to balancing it. The three agree business growth in California is a priority and that state spending cuts are necessary. This sounds like the platform most appealing to moderate voters nationwide – especially the coveted Independents. Boxer sticks to her more liberal platform.


In reality, November will reflect what the California voters find more useful to their every day lives and for the state of California – political experience or private sector experience. Approximately 66% of voters in California are moderate independents and Democrats. Their decision may very well shape the focus for the presidential campaign content in 2012.

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