Former Alaska Governor and Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin endorsed Republican Carly Fiorina for U.S. Senate this afternoon. In a move sure to disappoint supporters of Chuck Devore, who Glenn Beck called “the tea party candidate”, Palin dropped her endorsement just hours before the crucial final debate between opponent Devore, Fiorina and Tom Campbell.
In a statement released by Fiorina’s campaign, Palin said:
Carly is the Commonsense Conservative that California needs and our country could sure use in these trying times. She’s not a career politician. She’s a businesswoman who has run a major corporation. She knows how to really incentivize job creation. Her fiscal conservatism is rooted in real life experience. She knows that when government grows, the private sector shrinks under the burden of debt and deficits. We can trust Carly to do the right thing for America’s economy and to make the principled decisions she has throughout her professional career.
This move is sure to disappoint supporters of opponent Chuck Devore, who had been painting himself as “the only real conservative in the race.” Asked for a response by the Washington Post‘s David Weigel, Devore spokesperson Josh Trevino said:
Sarah Palin’s endorsement brings with it tremendous media attention, but not necessarily votes. Conservative activists in California know and like Chuck DeVore — and that’s our bottom line.
Trevino also pointed to Sarah Palin’s Facebook page, which featured a mixed response to her endorsement of Fiorina. One disappointed commenter said:
I love Sarah, but she needs to keep her nose out of California’s politics. I’m really upset that she has endorsed such a candidate, when Chuck DeVore is the best we can vote for in our state.
Although it had been widely assumed that Devore was the tea party candidate, Fiorina’s campaign also distributed a Field Poll to illustrate prior Tea Party support for Carly Fiorina. In a survey released in March, Fiorina led both Tom Campbell and Chuck Devore among voters who identified ‘a lot’ with the tea party movement – Fiorina had 27% of this sub-group’s support, compared to 23% for Campbell and 12% for Devore. Among the sub-groups that only identified ‘some’ or ‘not at all/not aware’ with the tea party movement, Campbell led significantly.
The ideological split between Carly Fiorina and Tom Campbell was made clear by Palin, as in her endorsement Palin took the time to take a swipe at Campbell, the supposed ‘moderate’ in the race:
I’m a huge proponent of contested primaries, so I’m glad to see the contest in California’s GOP, but I support Carly as she fights through a tough primary against a liberal member of the GOP who seems to bear almost no difference to Boxer, one of the most leftwing members of the Senate.
A Campbell spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Palin’s endorsement is also somewhat surprising, considering that during the 2008 President election, Fiorina was mildly critical of Palin. Asked whether she thought Palin could run a corporation like Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina said: “No, I don’t. But that’s not what she’s running for. Running a corporation is a different set of things.”
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