Update at 6:30pm: If there’s any doubt that Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz needs a strong showing in California’s June 7 primary election, just look at his newly-named running mate. Carly Fiorina has plenty of California ties – and now she’ll be asked to help Cruz block Donald Trump, starting at this weekend's California Republican Party convention.
From her six years as CEO of Hewlett-Packard to her 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate, Carly Fiorina is no stranger to California. She’s well-known in business and tech industry circles, and has statewide name recognition among rank-and-file Republicans.
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“I think that there will be a large contingent of Republicans in California who might otherwise have found Ted Cruz to be a little more conservative on some issues than they’d like who will feel more comfortable with Carly,” says Palo Alto lawyer Boris Feldman, who represented Fiorina while she led HP and has remained close with her since.
“People in the Bay Area know her, have known her for years. And I think that many of the Republicans here have very warm feelings toward her,” he says.
That could be key in a GOP primary that will award three delegates to the winner in each of California's 53 congressional districts – giving the liberal Bay Area just as much voting power as conservative Orange County.
Fiorina trounced GOP challengers from the left and the right in her 2010 Senate primary campaign, winning well over 50 percent of the vote. But despite spending millions of her own dollars, she lost by 10 points to Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer – who clearly hasn’t forgotten that race.
“The people in California rejected Carly Fiorina in a year that was a very tough year for Democrats – believe me,“ Boxer said on a Democratic National Committee conference call with reporters Thursday shortly after Cruz made his big announcement. “She was a very mean opponent, and the bottom line is they rejected her. And now, she’s coming back again – it’s like a bad dream.”
Might Fiorina might give Cruz a boost in the Golden State?
“She’s run away from California, so anyone who says she’s going to get him votes – she left, she doesn’t even live there anymore, it’s not even her residence!” Boxer says.
But Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo disagrees. He says Fiorina has been most popular in the Central Valley and parts of Southern California excluding Los Angeles.
“Her image is stronger among conservatives and tea party activists, which pretty much align with supporters of Ted Cruz, so it seems like a natural complement to his candidacy,” DiCamillo says.
As for whether Fiorina could accept the role of vice president when she's best known for her stint as a Fortune 20 CEO, Feldman says she'd be both capable and loyal.
“I don’t think she’d be itchy about being Number Two in that relationship,“ he says. “It’s just not what she’s about. She’s a very collaborative person – not an egomaniac as some people who run for president are.“
Fiorina has already been scheduled to speak at this weekend’s California Republican Party convention Saturday night in Burlingame. The scheduled lunch speaker that day? Cruz.
Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are speaking on Friday – and both will make their first campaign stops in California in the coming days. Trump will hold a rally Thursday night at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. Kasich has scheduled town halls Friday afternoon at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco and Saturday morning at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.
Original story: Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz announced Wednesday afternoon that former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will be his running mate.
Fiorina has political and personal ties to California. In addition to her six years leading HP, she won the Republican primary in the 2010 California U.S. Senate race. She overpowered two GOP opponents before losing to Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in the general election.
"She gave Barbara Boxer a huge run for her money," Beth Miller, a senior advisor on Fiorina's 2010 campaign, recalled in an interview with Capital Public Radio last fall.
The Senate battle was Fiorina's only political campaign before she announced her run for president last year. She dropped out of the presidential race in February after low finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.