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Campbell chalks up Fiorina's lead in Senate race to exposure

June 1, 2010 |  2:45 pm

Senate candidate Republican Tom Campbell offered a simple explanation for his rival Carly Fiorina’s lead in the polls: “It’s pretty straightforward, it’s media exposure,” he told reporters Tuesday.

With the California gubernatorial candidates dominating the airwaves, a new Los Angeles Times/USC poll showed that just 8% of voters said they had seen or heard one of Campbell's advertisements, while 24% said they had seen Fiorina’s ads. (Her most recent spot criticizes Campbell's record on taxes.)

That presents a huge challenge for Campbell in the final week as he tries to regain his footing in a once-close race. Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, led Campbell 38% to 23% in the new poll with their other rival, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Irvine, coming in third with 16%.

Campbell enters the final stretch at a significant financial disadvantage: He had $400,000 in cash to Fiorina’s $2.1 million, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

On Tuesday, Campbell said he would have to spend much of the next week raising money while trying to capture voters' attention through media interviews as well as his television spots. His campaign is trying to reach 300,000 voters Tuesday with a new online video highlighting the bright spot of the poll for their campaign -- he was the only candidate of the three Republican rivals beating Sen. Barbara Boxer in a hypothetical matchup.

“Those who are undecided, I think, are likely pragmatic voters,” Campbell said Tuesday. “So we make the pragmatic argument -- if you want to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer there’s one candidate who has a very good chance of doing so.”

Fiorina’s campaign, however, has disputed that logic by pointing out that Campbell lost both of his previous campaigns for Senate in 1992 and 2000. In an e-mail to reporters over the weekend, Fiorina’s spokeswoman Julie Soderlund argued that polls show Boxer is vulnerable and that Fiorina is within “striking distance.”

-- Maeve Reston in Los Angeles

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