Carly Fiorina, the next California senator?

Good thing former Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) CEO Carly Fiorina is running to be California's next U.S. senator. She wouldn't stand a chance at getting elected queen of Wall Street.

Fiorina, once considered one of the most powerful women in business, has heard the siren call of public service. Last week, the Republican filed paperwork with the IRS that will allow her to begin raising money for what likely will be one of most expensive senate races ever -- if not the most expensive. A spokeswoman for Fiorina declined to comment.

Democrats are salivating at the prospect of a Fiorina match-up against incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.

"If Carly Fiorina enters the race and becomes the Republican nominee, the voters will have a very clear choice between a senator who has spent decades fighting and winning for the people of California and someone described by many as one of the worst CEOs in America," said Rose Kapolczynski, Senator Boxer's campaign manager, in a statement.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Eric Schultz goes further, arguing in a press release, "This is a person who was fired from Hewlett-Packard for running the company into the ground [and] fired from the McCain Presidential Campaign for incompetence."

This is all true, of course, along with the outrageous $21 million severance package Fiorina was awarded by H-P's board. Not bad for causing the tech company's stock to tank following the disastrous merger with Compaq, no? Fiorina also feuded with the McCain campaign about its choice of Sarah Palin as a running-mate, although that could be a plus among California's voters.

But Democrats can't afford to snicker too long. Of the state's two senators, Boxer is the less popular. Dianne Feinstein, California's other senator, is seen as a more centrist politician than Boxer, according to political scientists. Despite its liberal reputation, California is a moderate state for the most part.

Daniel Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, told the DailyFinance that Fiorina may be the most formidable opponent Boxer has ever faced. Indeed, Fiorina's access to considerable sums of money probably concerns Boxer, according to Jennifer Duffy, senior editor Cook Political Report.
Poll numbers don't exactly indicate that Boxer is a shoe-in. The Los Angeles Timesreported that a March poll found voters evenly split on her re-election. However, a hypothetical match-up with Fiorina shows Boxer trouncing the former executive 55 percent to 25 percent, the paper said. Both candidates should easily beat their primary opponents.

With president Obama's popularity plunging and California's finances in a disastrous state, voters are fed-up with politicians of all sorts. If times get much worse, they may be willing to give someone new a chance -- even if their tenure at their old job left plenty to be desired.

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