Poll: Fiorina favored in GOP Senate primary

Andrew Riley, a 59-year-old carpenter from Roseville, plans to vote for former businesswoman Carly Fiorina in the GOP Senate primary on Tuesday.

He says she's got a better chance than former Republican Rep. Tom Campbell of defeating Democrat Barbara Boxer this fall.

"We need some people in there who are business-savvy," said Riley. "I'm thinking she's going to be picking up more momentum."

In the closing days of the heated GOP Senate campaign, both candidates are making appeals that they're best-suited to knock off Boxer, a three-term incumbent.

But as rank-and-file Republican voters ready for the election, they appear to be siding more with Fiorina.

A Field Poll released Friday found that 42 percent of likely GOP voters say that Fiorina would have a better chance of winning in November, while only 22 percent said that Campbell would be more likely to prevail.

In his final television advertisement, Campbell tries to convince voters otherwise.

He stares into the camera, "talking from my heart," and delivers what he calls a very pragmatic message that he hopes will sway undecided voters: Voters should not miss "the historic opportunity finally to replace" Boxer.

"I can do it, and none of my opponents can," Campbell said in an interview Friday. "That is the message in the last few days."

Campbell said his message is selling and will be the key to convincing late deciders, who he said tend to be more pragmatic.

Overall, Fiorina leads Campbell 37 percent to 22 percent, according to the poll.

The Fiorina campaign says that she's "the only conservative in the race" who can defeat Boxer.

Campbell contends that he's the best candidate because he is socially moderate and more in tune with a majority of Californians. And he cited a Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll from Sunday that found Campbell performing better than Fiorina in a hypothetical matchup against Boxer. That poll, unlike the Field Poll, included Democrats and independents, who Campbell says will be needed to help defeat Boxer.

Campbell said that in her past three elections, Boxer has won by focusing on abortion and social issues and that he would neutralize those issues because he backs abortion rights and gay rights, among other things.

One of the late deciders in the race is Lora Cassaro, a 64-year- old retired retail clerk from Forbestown, east of Oroville. She said she couldn't decide between Fiorina and Campbell, but that ultimately she decided that Fiorina had a better chance to defeat Boxer. Her decision was also made easier when Fiorina won an endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP's vice presidential nominee in 2008.

"Palin supported her, and I believe that we need somebody in the Senate that is going to be for us Americans, not for themselves anymore," Cassaro said. "She's got those strong points. People are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore."

In the poll, Fiorina does better than Campbell among men and women, conservatives and those 40 and older. She defeats Campbell in Southern California, Los Angeles County and the Central Valley while Campbell does better in the Bay Area and Northern California.

Mark DiCamillo, who directs the Field Poll, said the poll carries "ominous" results for Campbell, whose support has declined since March while support has increased for both Fiorina and the third-place candidate, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

Fiorina already is looking ahead. This week she unveiled an advertisement that accused Boxer of undermining U.S. security by focusing more on global warming than on fighting terrorism.

Boxer fired back Friday afternoon at a press conference in Hollywood.

"She's picked a fight with the entire military establishment," Boxer said of Fiorina. "And the military, the intelligence officials, people like John Warner, a war hero, a Republican, have stated unequivocally that in fact climate change is going to be the cause of wars over the next 20 years if we don't do something about it."

Related stories from Merced Sun-Star