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Politicking began before GOP convention opened

March 12, 2010 |  6:13 pm

As Republicans gather for their convention this weekend in Santa Clara, the GOP candidates for U.S. Senate have been reaching out to the delegates to make their case for why they are the best pick to take on Sen. Barbara Boxer in the fall.

The front-runners, former Rep. Tom Campbell and multimillionaire businesswoman Carly Fiorina, trained their fire squarely on each other and largely ignored the third competitor, Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

Until now, Campbell, a law professor, has largely been delivering wonkish policy proposals and defending himself against his opponents’ attacks on his record in the Middle East. On Thursday, he went on the attack, delivering a scathing indictment of Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard.

“Carly Fiorina's campaign resume is a work of fiction,” he said in a statement.

Campbell focused on Fiorina’s controversial tenure at H-P, where she ultimately was fired in 2005. He criticized stock price drops, layoffs and a subsidiary’s sales of H-P printers and ink in Iran, which is subject to a trade embargo, that occurred during Fiorina’s tenure.

"She says, 'Voters are sick and tired of those who are responsible for creating the mess we're in' -- and yet she epitomizes the corporate incompetence that contributed to America's economic meltdown,” Campbell said.

Campbell also sent e-mails this week to delegates touting his electability, his proposals to fix the nation’s fiscal problems and his credentials as a fiscal conservative.

Fiorina Fiorina sent mailers to the 1,366 convention delegates as well as likely GOP voters that criticized Campbell’s tax record, such as his refusal to sign the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” his support for temporary state tax increases and the 2005 state budget that he crafted as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finance director.

Pitching the battle as “Conservative Carly Fiorina vs. Taxin’ Tom Campbell,” the mailer concludes, “Carly Fiorina is a proven business leader who will stand up for you against the tax-hungry special interests who have kept Barbara Boxer in Washington for almost 28 years.”

For her part, Boxer is trying to capitalize on the Republicans’ three-day convention, which will feature appearances by probable 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday as well as the “Tea Party Express” bus at a rally Saturday. The three-term Democratic senator’s campaign manager, Rose Kapolczynski, sent out a fund-raising appeal Thursday to Boxer’s supporters titled “Match Them.”

“… The whole weekend will be one big rally cry for right-wing ‘tea party’ activists across California – and we need to show them that we’re ready to fight back against anything they throw at us,” she wrote.

--Seema Mehta