Sarah Palin endorsed former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina in the Republican U.S. Senate primary in California, a lift for the GOP hopeful in a three-way race with an ex-congressman and tea party-backed candidate.
The former vice presidential candidate said on her Facebook page that Fiorina's experience running a major corporation was sorely lacking in Washington.
"Her fiscal conservatism is rooted in real life experience," Palin said. "She knows that when government grows, the private sector shrinks under the burden of debt and deficits."
Fiorina served as an adviser on the McCain-Palin ticket, so they had a working relationship well before Fiorina became a political candidate. Fiorina said she was honored by Palin's support and that the two shared common ground as political outsiders and fiscal conservatives.
The June 8 primary features Fiorina, former Rep. Tom Campbell and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. The winner will face Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in the general election.
Palin referred to Campbell, the front-runner in most polls, as a "liberal member of the GOP who seems to bear almost no different to Boxer, one of the most left wing members of the Senate."
Campbell's campaign said Palin's endorsement "now settles the IOU from the 2008 election cycle."
"California voters are not buying that a failed CEO can be an effective U.S. Senator," the campaign said in an e-mailed statement. "Voters are looking for a Republican with a balance of experience, a real record fighting wasteful federal spending and the ability to defeat Barbara Boxer — and poll after poll says that Republican is Tom Campbell."
The endorsement of Fiorina is somewhat of a blow for DeVore, who had been endorsed by a national tea party group and is a frequent speaker at their meetings in California.
Republicans make up about 30 percent of the electorate in California. The winner will have to gain traction in the general election with independents to have a chance in the Democratic-leaning state. To that end, Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, said the endorsement will be helpful to Fiorina in the primary, but might be a slight negative in the general election.
"Sarah Palin remains popular among many Republican primary voters, but independents and Democrats are much less favorably disposed toward her," Pitney said.
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