The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Which Candidates Are Worth Their Weight in Golden State?


California’s Republican Senate primary is less than three weeks away, and it looks like it’s going to be a tough fight, with lots of thrown elbows, down to the end.

I don’t think anybody has run as hard as Chuck DeVore, and in terms of positions and views, he’s probably the most consistently conservative among the three options. But looking at the polls, it’s going to take some sort of miraculous last-minute surge to get him the nomination.

Carly Fiorina’s campaign seems to run hot and cold. Lord knows I loved the Demonsheep ad, and the Barbara-Boxer’s-head-as-the-Death-Star ad, and her biography will, I think, prompt a lot of non-Republicans to give her a second look in the general election if she wins. But it’s clear that without a record in public office, a lot of conservatives aren’t yet convinced that they can trust her. It’s hard to begrudge a California Republican for being skeptical of a big name from outside the political world.

Then there’s Tom Campbell, who’s solid on most fiscal issues and leading many but not all polls, but who also has these previous acts, statements, and associations that appear, if not anti-Israel, not particularly warm towards Israel. As one analyst put it to me a while back, “If Campbell wins, every major Jewish donor in the country will be giving to Boxer.” I’m not sure that’s accurate, but it seems like a potentially significant pitfall for the general election. Add in the NRA’s disenthusiasm for him, and there are two big potentially GOP demographics who might stay home. Still, since jumping from the governor’s race, he’s run with tenacity and aggression, exactly what we would expect of a man accused of being a carnivorous even-toed ungulate.

At Red State, Erick Erickson argues that Fiorina has to drop out, a logic I don’t quite follow:

We know from the real world — Marlin Stutzman — that two weeks out in Indiana he was at 8%, the week before the race he was at 18%, and the day of the election he got 30%.

The trends, polls, and other data are clear: Carly Fiorina has reached the glass ceiling. Chuck DeVore is going up. And it is Carly who is a drain on Chuck, not the other way around.

A conservative whose first name starts with a “C” can win the primary and beat Barbra Boxer. But that person is not named Carly. Rather that person is named Chuck.

Carly Fiorina needs to get out and endorse Chuck DeVore.

DeVore might be the next Marlin Stutzman, or he might be the next Steve Lonegan, a hard-charging down-the-line conservative in a pretty liberal state who gave it his best shot and came up short. Perhaps we will see a late DeVore surge; there’s a case to be made that a lot of California Republicans are just tuning in right about now. But DeVore has been running hard since November 2008, and seems stuck in the mid-teens at best.

I think David Weigel put it, “Can’t Patrick Ruffini, Liz Mair, and Josh Trevino all win?”

Tags: Barbara Boxer , Carly Fiorina , Chuck DeVore , Demonsheep , Tom Campbell


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review