Commentary: Sen. Boxer goes on the offensive

The Sacramento BeeMay 27, 2010 

SAN FRANCISCO — Sen. Barbara Boxer won't be heading off to Hawaii any time soon, and certainly not next month.

With help from the Fundraiser in Chief, Boxer and California Democrats are getting ready to target whoever emerges from the Republican primary on June 8, sooner rather than later.

On Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama put aside Afghanistan, the Koreas, the gulf oil spill, illegal immigration and a bunch of other pressing issues, and got down to the hard business of politics, specifically helping raise money for California's junior senator, whom he has lauded as a loyal ally.

After raising hundreds of thousands for Boxer in Los Angeles on April 19, Obama jetted to San Francisco where he raised roughly $1.7 million, to be split between Boxer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

His first stop was a fundraiser attended by 1,000 people paying between $250 and $2,000 at the Fairmont. Then he motored a few hills to the west to Gordon and Ann Getty's mansion where the high rollers, having paid $35,000, gathered for a dinner. He gave a few comments, then left before dinner was served.

Given California's heavy Democratic registration, the Democrats ought to be able to hang onto her seat. By helping Boxer raise money early, Obama, as the party's leader, no doubt hopes that California can be taken out of play quickly.

But that would be in a normal year – and this is not one of those.

It's not clear whom Boxer will face in November, though recent polls show that Carly Fiorina, the wealthy former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, has taken the lead in the hard-fought race.

Using $3.6 million of her own money, Fiorina has outspent her main rival, Tom Campbell, a former congressman from the Palo Alto area who had been the early front-runner.

Rose Kapolczynski, Boxer's campaign manager, would not discuss strategy or timing. But Boxer is nothing if not an aggressive campaigner.

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