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Fiorina, Boxer fire opening salvos in political Web wars

February 3, 2010 | 12:40 pm

The political Internet wars have begun, with candidates in the U.S. Senate race taking to the Internet Wednesday morning to tarnish their opponents with taunts that seem drawn from a middle school playground.

The California Democratic Party unveiled a website attacking the business record of Republican primary candidate Carly Fiorina, calling her “Carly Failorina.”

“Use this site to explore the ways Carly ‘Failorina’ Fiorina failed Hewlett-Packard and will fail California,” the site says. “Or if you know something we don't have, submit your own ‘Carly Fail’!”

Democrats say they are trying to set the record straight about Fiorina’s record at Hewlett-Packard. Fiorina frequently touts her experience as the first and only woman to lead a Fortune 20 company as her strongest qualification for seeking to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer, but glosses over the controversies during her nearly six-year tenure there, which ended when she was ousted by HP’s board of directors in 2005.

“Carly Fiorina would be an unmitigated disaster for California,” California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton said in a statement as the website was unveiled. “But just don’t take our word for it. Talk to any of the 28,000 people she fired while she was busy sending jobs overseas and running Hewlett-Packard right into the ground.”

Meanwhile, Fiorina launched a website and video of her own, labeling one of her primary opponents, former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell, as a “Fiscal Conservative In Name Only,” or a FCINO. The painful acronym is a play on RINO, or Republican In Name Only, which both Fiorina and Campbell have been accused of being by conservative members of the GOP.

Since leaping into the GOP Senate primary race last month, Campbell has touted his fiscal resume and conservative fiscal credentials and is the front-runner in early polls. Fiorina’s efforts, which label Campbell “Taxin’ Tom,” recount his support for tax increases, including last year’s failed Measure 1A. The video features a pastoral field of grazing sheep, with one demonic looking interloper, a man in a sheep suit with blazing red eyes.

“California voters beware: Tom Campbell is a wolf in sheep’s clothing when it comes to his campaign rhetoric on taxes and government spending. He is a fiscal liberal masquerading as a ‘Fiscal Conservative In Name Only,’ ” Julie Soderlund, a spokeswoman for Fiorina, said in a statement. “The last thing California needs is another tax-hiking, big-spending senator -- Barbara Boxer has done more than her fair share of that over the last 18 years.”

Neither state Democrats nor Fiorina bothered with the third GOP candidate, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Irvine.

-- Seema Mehta