Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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Show Me the Money

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The busiest political activity in California today won’t be out in public, on the campaign trail.

The real action will be going on behind the scenes, with campaigns in a last-minute frenzy to collect as much money as possible before the June 30th deadline for second-quarter fundraising reports.

And once those reports are filed, the numbers to watch will be those belonging to Carly Fiorina, the Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Why Fiorina? Well, she’s one of Republicans with, in my opinion, a better-than-average chance of winning their statewide race (the others being Meg Whitman, Abel Maldonado and Steve Cooley).

And, of the factors that go into her race (biography, issues, voters’ mood, etc.), money is the one area in which Fiorina seems to be at a sore disadvantage against Boxer.

Reportedly, as of last week, Boxer had a 2-1 edge in fundraising over Fiorina: $16.3 million for the Democratic incumbent vs. $7.3 million for the GOP challenger.

Complicating things: federal campaign contributions limits. It’s $2,400 a pop for donors in the general election, compared to the $25,900 ceiling for non-federal California statewide races.

Moreover, while Fiorina’s a well-to-do former CEO who’s already loaned millions to her campaign, it’s not like she has Meg Whitman’s wealth. Then again, who does?

That partly explains why Fiorina was in the nation’s capital earlier this week: to shake the money tree. She needs to narrow the financial gulf before summer gives way to fall, and television advertising commences. And Fiorina needs a healthy round of fundraising to give some oomph to the impression that she’s a strong challenger and Boxer’s a weak incumbent.

Not that Boxer isn’t doing a whole lotta shakin’ as well.

Her campaign’s trying to pull in $250,000 in on-line donation before tonight’s deadline (a game both parties have become fond of playing, ever since Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown’s shocked the political world with his $1.3 million “money bomb” in his special-election victory earlier this year).

And, like Fiorina, Boxer’s relying on kindness beyond the Golden State.

In addition to two presidential fundraisers this year, she’s receiving help from her Senate colleagues. That includes Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, who sent an e-mail to his supporters, asking them to show a little love (and a lot of $$$) for his friend from California.

“Barbara led the fight to stop drilling in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She repealed the luxury tax on alternative fuel vehicles and helped secure federal funding to provide electric vehicles for the U.S. Military.

And she worked closely with me to ensure that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was the largest single investment in clean energy infrastructure in history – simultaneously moving our country forward and saving or creating millions of jobs nationwide.”

Strong words, and a strong embrace of the massive spending that voters supposedly are up in arms against — from a senator not up for re-election until 2014.

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Written by Bill Whalen

June 30, 2010 at 6:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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