From today’s Wall Street Journal Political Diary E-mail…
The Other California Race
Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of HP, has charted a bolder strategy than her gubernatorial counterpart, Meg Whitman, who has decided to blend sharp rhetoric over the state’s financial situation with more centrist appeals on issues like immigration and global warming. Ms. Fiorina, meanwhile, has staked out conservative positions across the board in her race against Barbara Boxer, though the Fiorina campaign still puts pocketbook issues front and center rather than social ones.
Interestingly, until lately, her opponent followed a similar pattern. Senator Boxer’s TV ads have revolved not around her political trademark — abortion — or other liberal touchstones, but Ms. Fiorina’s business record, particularly her decision to send certain HP jobs overseas. The Boxer strategy was to match Ms. Fiorina blow-for-blow on the economic front, but now that seems to be changing.
Liberal wedges issues are suddenly becoming more prominent in the campaign. Yesterday, Ms. Boxer sounded like her old self, railing about abortion at a rally in Hollywood. Why? California Democrats are increasingly hopeful that a ballot proposition on marijuana will help drive young voters to the polls. Besides, with Ms. Boxer’s lead shrinking to within the margin of error, it perhaps makes sense to try to assure at least a narrow victory by mobilizing her base.
The GOP continues to reach more broadly by playing up themes of economic discontent, while Ms. Fiorina remains focused on making herself acceptable to both moderate and conservative voters. She won’t be appearing at any Sarah Palin rallies, but she’s happy to have Ms. Palin campaigning for her around the state. At a rally in San Jose yesterday, the former Alaska governor red-meated the audience in typical style, calling Ms. Boxer one of those Washington liberals who are "permanent residents of a unicorn ranch in fantasy land."