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Fiorina’s loan gives her edge in Calif Senate race

KEVIN FREKING
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – Carly Fiorina’s $2.5 million loan to her campaign for a U.S. Senate from California has given the former Hewlett-Packard CEO a considerable financial edge over her Republican rivals, according to campaign finance reports made available Friday.

In all, Fiorina’s campaign had $2.75 million in the bank to begin the year. She is one of three Republicans vying for the right to challenge Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is seeking a fourth term.

One of Fiorina’s GOP primary challengers, state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, had $226,364 cash on hand. The other, former congressman Tom Campbell, is just beginning to raise money after dropping his campaign for California governor Jan. 14.

All three Republicans have a lot of work ahead to catch up with Boxer, whose campaign estimates she has nearly $7.3 million in the bank.

The reports released Friday covered campaign fundraising over the final three months of 2009, as well as cumulative totals for the year.

Fiorina’s fundraising started in August when she formed an exploratory committee. Between early August and Dec. 31, her campaign brought in $1.1 million in donations. Most of the donations arrived after her official entry into the race in early November.

“Carly has invested in her campaign because she’s in this race to win it. She is 100 percent invested in all ways, including financially,” said Fiorina’s campaign spokeswoman, Julie Soderlund.

The rest of Fiorina’s money was from her loan. Her personal fortune comes in part from the $21 million severance package she received after being dismissed from HP in 2005.

By comparison, DeVore took in about $442,000 from donors over the final quarter. The DeVore campaign stressed that at the end of the year, it had about as much money as Fiorina if her loan were excluded.

“The big difference between her and us is that she’s got millions in old parachute money she can put into her campaign,” said Joshua Trevino, a spokesman for the DeVore campaign. “We held our own against Fiorina in the fourth quarter.”

Even though Campbell is just starting his fundraising, he faced far greater financial obstacles in the governor’s race as Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner each tapped their personal fortunes.

Whitman, the billionaire former chief executive of eBay, has contributed $39 million of her own money. Poizner, the state insurance commissioner and former Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has tapped his personal bank account for $19 million.

“We knew the other candidates had a head start, but it was nothing that deterred Tom from entering the race,” said Campbell’s campaign spokesman, James Fisfis.

Campbell is prohibited from transferring any of the money he had raised for the governor’s race but estimated he would raise between $7 million and $10 million during the GOP Senate primary.

“And based on our initial fundraising response, we’re sticking with that,” Fisfis said.

Boxer raised $1.8 million in the final quarter of 2009.

“In the fourth quarter of 2009, Barbara Boxer raised more than all three of her challengers combined,” said Boxer campaign spokeswoman Rose Kapolczynski. “On the other hand, as Massachusetts shows, you can’t take anything for granted in a political campaign.”

Boxer’s contributions for the year include a $10,000 contribution from the Hewlett-Packard Co.’s political action committee, the maximum allowed. Fiorina served as the chairman and CEO at Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005.

HP’s political action committee is a separate legal entity from the company. The company’s Web site explains that money is donated to the PAC by selected employees and disbursed based on a plan approved by the company’s CEO and board of directors.