The Rise of the Republican Woman



Gender equity has never been at the forefront of conservative politics, but the California Republican Party appears poised to nominate two women next week to be its standard bearers. As the June 8 primary rapidly approaches, its seems increasingly clear that Meg Whitman will be the GOP nominee for governor and that Carly Fiorina will represent Republicans in the race for US Senate. Both women, who also happen to be wealthy former CEOs of major tech companies, now have clear advantages in the polls. But the question is: Have Whitman and Fiorina become too conservative for California?

According to, Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, has a commanding lead over Steve Poizner, her main rival. She’s ahead by at least 20 percentage points in polls conducted over the past week to ten days. It’s clear that her decision to pump $68 million into her own campaign has paid off:

Likewise, Fiorina has moved out to a big lead over her main Republican rival — Tom Campbell. The ex-CEO of Hewlett Packard also has a 20-point lead over the moderate Campbell in four polls conducted over the past seven to ten days (Tea Party fave Chuck DeVore continues to trail badly):

And Fiorina’s large campaign warchest, coupled with Campbell’s lack of funds, has prompted Campbell to abandon TV advertising in the final week of the campaign, the Los Angeles Times reports. It’s a huge blow to his campaign, but shouldn’t come as a surprise because he’s always been a poor fundraiser.

Although the nomination of two women to such high-profile positions would be unprecedented for the Republican Party, it’s not at all clear that Whitman and Fiorina can beat Democratic Party nominees Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer. In the wake of news reports tying Whitman to Goldman Sachs scandals, Brown has regained his advantage in the polls over Whitman, even though she would be the first woman governor in California history:

And Fiorina continues to trail Boxer by a substantial margin even though she would be the state’s first Republican woman US senator:

The problem for both Whitman and Fiorina is that they’ve shifted significantly toward the right in order to win their respective GOP nominations. Both have surged to the lead in the polls among Republicans after attacking their opponents as being "too liberal." Such a full-throttled embrace of conservatism is obviously going over well among GOP voters, but it promises to make it difficult for them in a left-leaning state like California — even though both women represent groundbreaking candidacies for the state and for their parties.