FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
A New Year’s Report from DeVore for California.
It’s the first full week of the new year, which means it’s back to work for most of us. In our case, at DeVore for California, it means back to work winning the Republican nomination for Chuck DeVore to face Barbara Boxer in November. In your case, it means following that race — first between Chuck DeVore and Carly Fiorina (and quite possibly Tom Campbell!), and then between Chuck DeVore and Barbara Boxer.
What’s that, you say? Hubris? Okay, it’s a long way from here to June, and still longer to November — but forgive us on Team DeVore if we’re optimistic. The past year was a good year for the grassroots movement that’s fueling Chuck DeVore’s run, and we have every reason to think 2010 will be even better. We blew past our first million raised in November, and the fourth-quarter numbers for 2009 will further solidify this campaign’s viability. In 2009, DeVore for Califorina went from a handful of volunteers, a Twitter account, and a vision …. to thousands of volunteers, a nationwide donor base, national-media exposure, and that most elusive of qualifications, electoral credibility. Oh, and we still have the Twitter account.
And what was Carly Fiorina’s 2009 like? In a word, lackluster. Coming in with every advantage, the Fiorina campaign managed to squander them all. A few of their more notable shortcomings and failures in 2009:
1. NO POLLING LEAD — This one belongs up top. Despite massive expenditures, despite a high media profile stretching back a full decade, and despite no fewer than four high-priced communications shops in her employ (that is, Hynes Communications in DC, Wilson Miller in Sacramento, Meridian Pacific in Sacramento, and Strategic Perceptions in Hollywood), no major poll in 2009 showed Carly Fiorina will a lead over Chuck DeVore larger than one point. That bears repeating: they couldn’t generate more than a one-point lead. Not even outside the margin of error. Not even against a State Assemblyman who only became a statewide figure this year. One point. That’s it. Will she open up a larger lead in 2010? Perhaps: it’s reasonable to assume that the difference in plain resources may tell at some point. But the failure to do it in 2009 is a tremendous indictment of Carly for California — and its increasingly dubious threat to Barbara Boxer.
2. THE REACTIVITY — Carly Fiorina’s public statements reflect her campaign’s decision to speak (poll numbers notwithstanding) as if she’s already directly facing Barbara Boxer. But her campaign’s actions betray a keen awareness of the threat posed by Chuck DeVore, and so a pattern of reaction has emerged. We saw it at the beginning, when Carly for California moved its official announcement up from November 6th to November 4th, in response to Senator Jim DeMint’s endorsement of Chuck DeVore on November 3rd. And we’ve seen it as Fiorina has moved steadily toward the right in her public pronouncements. Indeed, in the last six weeks of 2009, Carly Fiorina has rushed to occupy Chuck DeVore’s position on nearly every issue. Just a few examples:
She went from claiming no opinion on Obamacare in October, to being a staunch opponent of it in December. She went from claiming no opinion on amnesty for illegals in November, to being a staunch opponent of it in December. She went from claiming no opinion on Sarah Palin in early Autumn, to saying she shared Palin’s values in December. She went from endorsing cap-and-trade as a McCain proxy, to being a staunch opponent of it in December. She went from defending the Wall Street bailouts as a McCain proxy, to being a staunch opponent of it in December. She went from a qualified endorsement of the Obama stimulus in the spring, to being a staunch opponent of it in December. She went from claiming to be more electable than Chuck DeVore, to saying, “I do not believe I differ from Chuck DeVore either fiscally or socially,” in late November.
If Carly for California keeps allowing DeVore for California to set its agenda, it’s in for an unpleasant June.
3. THE ESTABLISHMENT COLLAPSE — This is one that you at RedState know well — and can take no small credit for. Back during her exploratory phase, Carly Fiorina was incautious about bragging that she was directly recruited by the NRSC — and the NRSC returned the love, with off-the-record support and on-the-record fundraising collaboration. As a corollary to that, Fiorina racked up the endorsements of several Republican U.S. Senators, versus the one supporting Chuck DeVore. But something happened on the way to the coronation: NY-23. That single House race crystallized the Republican grassroots’ discontent with the D.C. party establishment. Coupled with the fracas over Crist/Rubio, and the NRSC’s ineptitude with press and bloggers, the value of Fiorina’s establishment support has almost entirely evaporated. There’s still money in it, of course — but at this point, Carly Fiorina as the candidate of the NRSC and the D.C. Republican establishment is as likely to repel voters as attract them. And that’s a problem which brings us to item four —
4. THE TOM CAMPBELL THREAT — It’s well known by now that Tom Campbell is contemplating a jump from the gubernatorial race to the senatorial contest. It’s also well known that the persons urging Campbell to switch are Republican-establishment eminences who have lost faith in Carly Fiorina’s ability to win. This is terrible news for Fiorina, for three major reasons:
First and most obvious is the loss of establishment backers who have little use for the sort of grassroots-driven conservative campaign that Chuck DeVore is running. Second is the probability that there just isn’t room for two Bay Area Republicans, drawing from the same milieu, in the race. Third and most damaging is the probability that Tom Campbell seriously erodes Fiorina’s support, but not DeVore’s. If Chuck DeVore is the conservative, Carly Fiorina the moderate masquerading as a conservative, and Tom Campbell the moderate, that puts Fiorina in a bad position: both conservatives and moderates have the real deal available in DeVore or Campbell. It nullifies the Fiorina campaign’s argument for itself, and casts the folly of her reactive run to the right in sharp relief.
There is no way the entry of Tom Campbell is a good thing for Carly Fiorina — and even the rumor of it exposes the nervousness that her underperforming campaign has generated among her establishment base.
5. BAD FUNDRAISING — Carly Fiorina started fundraising with her exploratory effort in August. Then she formally announced on November 4th. Then she told press on November 18th that she had already made out a loan to her own campaign. This strongly suggests a top-heavy effort that isn’t paying for itself. Married to the lack of results enumerated above, Fiorina’s campaign loan less than two weeks into her formal effort is a leading indicator of a struggling campaign. When the fourth quarter 2009 FEC reports come out, check to see what’s a loan, and what’s actual funds raised.
6. THE VOTING RECORD — This has been covered in depth, and there’s little to add to it: simultaneous with the announcement of her exploratory effort, the San Francisco Chronicle uncovered Carly Fiorina’s terrible voting record, with participation in all of 6 of the 19 elections in which she was eligible to vote. “I felt disconnected from the decisions made in Washington,” wrote Fiorina’s ghostwriter in the November 4th Orange County Register op-ed that announced her candidacy, “and, to be honest, really didn’t think my vote mattered.” She felt so disconnected, in fact, she contributed, raised, and/or bundled hundreds of thousands of dollars in PAC and candidate contributions over the past decade. The emergence of this story was assuredly not how Carly Fiorina wanted to kick off her exploratory effort.
7. THE IRAN EXPORTS — We know that Hewlett-Packard under Carly Fiorina exported millions of dollars’ worth of illegal technology to the Islamic Republic of Iran. We know that the Fiorina campaign has thus far taken two different tacks on this: denying knowledge on the one hand, and claiming that the exports were not actually illegal on the other. This story, which has yet to be fully developed — Carly Fiorina has thus far avoided hard and direct questions on it — is the time bomb waiting to detonate under the shaky edifice of Carly for California. It may well do so in 2010, depending on journalistic efforts — but it was placed in 2009.
8. THAT WEBSITE — One word: Carlyfornia.
That was 2009 in the California Senate race among Republicans. A good year for Chuck DeVore, with his grassroots-driven, disciplined, steady advance — and a bad one for Carly Fiorina, with her elite-driven, erratic, and overloaded bandwagon. Is this race over? Not by a long shot. Not even close.
But like I said, forgive us if we’re optimistic. With your help, we will put Chuck DeVore over the top — and head to head with Barbara Boxer. This fight is your fight, and these wins are your wins. He’ll be the first to tell you that this race isn’t about elevating or glorifying him. It’s about a conservatism that can win. It’s about the principles undergirding our great nation. It’s about liberty. It’s about you.