SAN DIEGO (AP) _ The two headliners at this weekend’s California Republican Party convention offered a similar theme, promoting themselves as the candidates of fresh ideas and California’s future who are running against lifelong politicians representing failed ideas.
On Saturday, it was Senate candidate Carly Fiorina’s turn in the spotlight, a day after gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman criticized her Democratic opponent, former governor Jerry Brown, as representing “the same direction that we’ve already traveled.”
California Republicans blame the Democratic majorities in the state Legislature and Congress for hampering the state’s recovery from the deepest recession in 70 years, saying the twin burdens of high taxes and layers of red tape encourage businesses to look elsewhere.
Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund said the former Hewlett Packard Co. chief executive will propose “commonsense” ideas for business-friendly policies and reforming the way government works. She also will advocate for term limits and redistricting reform in Congress.
“She will contrast the difference between Barbara Boxer, who has been in office more than three decades and is part of Washington, D.C.’s broken system,” Soderlund said.
Any proposal on term limits would have to be initiated at the federal level and would require passage of a constitutional amendment.
In 1992, California voters passed Proposition 164, which imposed term limits on California’s congressional delegation. But the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the measure, ruling that states are not allowed to limit the terms of their federal representatives.
“This is a typical Fiorina absurd political comment,” said Bob Mulholland of the California Democratic Party. “I’m sure Fiorina had a lot of ideas at HP, and that’s why they fired her.”
Boxer is seeking a fourth term in Congress and has been contrasting her record against what she says are Fiorina’s highly conservative stances on issues such as abortion and offshore oil drilling.
Like Whitman, the former eBay chief executive who emphasized boosting private-sector jobs in her party address Friday, Fiorina is touting her business experience as the former CEO of HP. She says that experience can help her steer the state and national economy back on track.
California showed few signs of economic recovery in July as the state’s unemployment rate remained stagnant at 12.3 percent.
Republicans view Fiorina as their best chance to unseat Boxer. A summer Field Poll showed Boxer had support from 47 percent of likely voters, while Fiorina had support from 44 percent, a gap that was within the survey’s margin of error.
Soderlund said Fiorina understands the need to make policy that will not hurt businesses. Fiorina has raised concerns about the economic effects of California’s landmark law to reduce greenhouse gases but has not taken a stance on Proposition 23, which would indefinitely suspend it.
Boxer opposes the November ballot measure, which is being funded primarily by Texas oil companies.
Orange County delegate Diane McGlinchey was among 1,000 people expected to gather at the party convention in San Diego. The 73-year-old mother of seven and grandmother of 10 said she is excited to have two women atop the party’s ticket.
“I am here mostly because of my enthusiasm for our ticket, the whole Republican ticket, in particular Meg Whitman,” McGlinchey said. “She would be the one who would bring fiscal conservatism and jobs back to California. I believe in her. Absolutely an outstanding woman.”
Her friend, Alice Anderson, said she is hopeful the party can overcome the state’s large Democratic voter registration advantage. Republicans account for less than 31 percent of registered voters in California, compared to the Democrats’ 44.5 percent. Independents are one-fifth of the electorate.
“Both of them are going to have to reach out to the Latinos, independents and the decline-to-states because we need those votes,” Anderson said. “We’re hoping those people will think as we do and realize what a good team we have right now.”