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Carly Fiorina wins US Senate GOP primary in California

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, won California's US Senate GOP primary on Tuesday. She'll meet incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer in November.

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U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer says she is used to tough campaigns, so Carly Fiorina won't represent an exception on that front. Still, Fiorina has some things going for her that make her particularly formidable: money, the ability to run as a political outsider and a fired-up conservative base.

Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard, won the GOP primary on Tuesday more handily than was expected just a couple of weeks ago. She lent her campaign $5.5 million, which was more than her two competitors could raise even by combining their fundraising totals.

Upon winning, Fiorina, 55, immediately turned her attention to the three-term Boxer, saying the Democrat had helped establish higher taxes, greater regulation and less economic growth. It's clear that Republicans will try to tie Boxer to the state's struggling economy.

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"We must end the failure and disgrace of California being responsible for one out of every six unemployed Americans. Barbara Boxer's answer of rhetoric over reality stops now," Fiorina said.

As Fiorina's Republican opponents predicted, Boxer is already trying to turn the focus toward Fiorina's record at HP, where she led the company through tough times for the tech industry and a controversial merger with Compaq Computers. In 2005, she was fired and provided with a severance package worth at least $21 million.

"My opponent is running on her tenure at HP. Not only was she fired, she laid off 30,000 American workers and shipped their jobs overseas," Boxer said.

Fiorina counters that the number of employees at the end of her tenure exceeded the number at the beginning.

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"In the U.S. Senate, I will be relentless in fighting for every American job," Fiorina said.

The Fiorina campaign believes that even while Boxer has had some tough races in the past, she's always been running when conditions were to her advantage. Her first win against Bruce Herschensohn came during the "year of the woman," which resulted in several new female senators. Subsequent races against Matt Fong and Bill Jones brought little in the way of national resources to help keep her GOP opponents relevant.

"My first two races were very close and very difficult," Boxer said. "I can't really say this is tougher."

Fiorina's candidacy in the primary was aided by endorsements from national figures such as Sarah Palin and campaigning by outside interest groups. Those include the National Organization for Marriage and the National Rifle Association. Some of those same groups could well put resources into the general election as well.

But, to succeed, Fiorina will also have to win over many independents who are more moderate on the issues than the typical primary voter.

Christopher Gardner, 43, of Sacramento, said they've been too conservative for his tastes.

"The Republicans are really running some hard right-wingers and I'm more middle of the road. I don't care for the way Carly Fiorina was reducing global warning to mere weather," Gardner said. "Anyone who would be endorsed by Sarah Palin wouldn't fly with me."

But Mary Jane Williams, a registered Democrat from Fresno County, said she's ready to vote against incumbents, a sentiment that could spell trouble for Boxer.

"We couldn't be any worse off than we are now. If they've had the position before, they don't get another chance," Williams said.

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