Female CEOs to the Rescue in California

Wednesday, 09 Jun 2010 08:19 AM

By Richard Grenell

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Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina didn’t think it would be so easy. But both Whitman and Fiorina won big — and both races were over shortly after 9 p.m.

Both women fought hard and campaigned like champions. Both Women had Republican challengers that ran aggressive campaigns against them.

Whitman seemed to have a scary primary race developing when Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner ran a series of immigration ads in the last few weeks that made the race tense and close.

Whitman quickly responded with tough ads of her own to correct her record. More importantly, she never lost her cool. She proved she was a tough leader that knows how to fight, and she showed California voters that she can handle the rough and tumble world of politics.

Poizner’s aggressive campaign ultimately made Whitman a better candidate. While she may have started as a soft spoken CEO, she was forced into finishing as a sturdy leader — one who is focused in her message and comfortable in her abilities.

Fiorina also had a tough primary battle. While Tom Campbell had little money, his message hit Fiorina hard. But she responded with both brilliant campaign ads and old fashion retail politics. She worked hard — crisscrossing the state and campaigning vigorously.

She seemed to enjoy one-on-one conversations with everyday Californians in a way many pundits didn’t think possible. She knows the issues and is surprisingly and genuinely personable. She, too, became a better candidate due to her opponent.

For Whitman, Jerry Brown is the perfect opponent. And for Fiorina, running against Barbara Boxer presents voters with drastically different choices.

Brown is all talk with very little to show for his decades of political activity. The last time Jerry Brown was governor, he left the state with record unemployment and a budget deficit of more than $1 billion. Whitman is soft spoken with a lifetime of business success. While voters across the country are tired of career politicians like Brown and Boxer, Californians are particularly wary of self-serving politicians that have left the state near fiscal collapse.

Barbara Boxer, who is known as mean-spirited and difficult to get along with, is the poster-child for out-of-touch politicians with stale ideas. She has many detractors who are energized to throw her out of office but few vocal supporters outside of the traditional union members that support all Democrats.

While East Coasters erroneously think California voters are overwhelmingly liberal, Golden State residents are consistently anti-tax and fiercely independent.

Californians are progressive and willing to try creative solutions to problems. Unlike other risk-adverse states, California tries everything once. How else can you explain a state that elected Hollywood icon Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor and overwhelmingly passed Proposition 8, the anti-gay state-wide ballot initiative? Solidly liberal states would never have voted for Arnold and Prop 8.

The current political climate for incumbents, combined with California’s penchant for continuous improvement and inventive ideas, spells trouble for old guards like Brown and Boxer.

This November, California voters have a clear choice — Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer who are uber-liberal career politicians with a history of support from special interests or Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina — CEOs with decades of business experience and new ideas to turn California’s dubious future around.

Richard Grenell served as the spokesman for the last four ambassadors to the United Nations — John Negroponte, John Danforth, John Bolton, and Zalmay Khalilzad. Go to www.richardgrenell.com.


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