GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina announced Wednesday that she will run for U.S. Senate in a Republican bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer next year.
Fiorina, 55, launched her official Senate campaign in an op-ed in the Orange County Register, and planned a town-hall event at Earth Friendly Products, a maker of cleaning supplies based in Orange County, later this morning. She had explored the Senate race for months and was rumored as a potential California gubernatorial candidate last year when she served as an adviser to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign.
Her candidacy sets up a June battle with Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, in the Republican primary. The two represent different sides of the GOP spectrum; DeVore yesterday won an endorsement from the Senate Conservatives Fund, while Fiorina chose to launch her campaign at a business that touts its environmentally friendly credentials. They were virtually tied in a Field Poll last month, although Fiorina is expected to outspend and outraise DeVore.
From 1999 to 2005, Fiorina was president and CEO of Hewlett Packard, making her one of the most prominent female business executives in history. But the company's board of directors removed her in February 2005 in a public rebuke. Critics said her dismissal was due to the company's poor performance, but Fiorina has since blamed it on a "dysfunctional" board. Among the highlights of her HP tenure was the company's 2002 merger with computer maker Compaq.
Fiorina reestablished her public profile last year as a surrogate for McCain's campaign. She spoke at the Republican National Convention and appeared on talk shows to promote his economic policies. Though generally considered a moderate Republican, Fiorina described herself as "pro-life" on the McCain campaign trail.
Fiorina is a multimillionaire, but she is unlikely to self-finance her campaign to the same extent that Silicon Valley counterparts Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner are expected to in the gubernatorial race. While Whitman and Poizner are each worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Fiorina earned an HP severance package worth an estimated $42 million and earned $3.1 million in total compensation during her final full year in 2004, according to the New York Times.