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Calif. GOP makes history w/ Whitman, Fiorina

June 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
California Republicans made history by nominating two women to the state's two highest offices. Both are wealthy businesswomen who have already reached the highest ranks in the corporate world.For California Republicans, it's a new era. For the first time, women will be leading the charge for the GOP. Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman became the first female Republican gubernatorial candidate in the state. She will take on Jerry Brown for the governor seat.

"I am battle tested now and I am ready to give Jerry Brown the toughest election fight he's faced in his 40 years of politics," said Whitman.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina won the Republican Party nomination, making her the first female GOP Senate nominee in California. She will represent the party in its bid to unseat Senator Barbara Boxer.

"It means the Republican Party in California is ahead of the other states in the nation by running two women for the top tiered political positions in the state," said Jaime Regalado of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Policy.

"I think it's a certain kind of breakthrough, particularly with regard to Whitman and Fiorina because they're women with a great amount of means behind them. Both of them have been CEOs, both of them come from the business world and both of them are political novices," said Ange Marie Hancock, a political science professor for USC.

Hancock says Republican women across the nation have been working to energize the party in their own way by seeking viable candidates. Whitman and Fiorina have a message about their success in business and personal fortunes, a combination that can help and hurt, especially when it comes to having ties to unpopular corporations.

"She has ties with Goldman Sachs, and Goldman Sachs was recently voted the least trustworthy corporation in all of the United State of America," described Hancock.

Voters are taking notice of the whole package of each candidate.

"I don't look upon it as a woman thing. I just think they're the best qualified and we're ready to go," said Whitman supporter, Jane Barnett.

Both women have a lot in common. Whitman was the CEO of eBay. Fiorina once ran Hewlett-Packard. The former business leaders are promising to use that know-how to revive California's economy. Whitman is also promising big cuts in state spending.

Whitman and Fiorina were the stars of the Republican Party Wednesday morning in Anaheim where they celebrated their victory. Democrats crashed the party as well with anti-Whitman chants. Union members tried to make as much noise as possible about the proposed cuts and what it could mean for public education in the state.

"We need a governor who is for the people, the working class, the students, the people who are really really really vested in the state of California and we're just tired of the big money running the show," said union worker, Stewart Tedford.

Candidates from both parties will be aiming for the independent and undecided groups. Look for Jerry Brown to present a message that compares Whitman to the present governor of California.

"The stakes are too high to invest in somebody as governor who's going to take four years to learn the job," said Regalado.

While state workers are worried about losing their jobs, others are hoping that the GOP will create business jobs.

"That's the thing that we're so excited about. The two big candidates are CEO people, people who will create jobs from nothing and that's what we're excited about, not the single politicians but people who have experience making jobs and want to give new people a chance to try and do that," said Fiorina supporter, Scott Silviera.

"We create jobs by making it easier, not harder, for small business, family owned business, innovators and entrepreneurships to do what they do best and that is to give people like me, to give people like all of us, to give our children and grandchildren a chance, a chance to live our dreams," said Fiorina.

Money will play a big role in both races. Both Whitman and Fiorina have personal fortunes from their years of business and both have shown a willingness to spend that money and get their message out.

"Even though you may not have had any political experience before or even much of a voting record, money makes credibility," said Regalado.

More money will be seen in the form of more campaign commercials towards the general election in November.

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