Cruz’s Fiorina Pick a Play for California

Ted Cruz’s choice for vice-president was made with California in mind.

With Donald Trump running swiftly toward the nomination, his closest rival, Senator Ted Cruz, tried to grab the spotlight by naming his vice-presidential nominee, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Fiorina, off a presidential run of her own, has a California pedigree, although the Silicon Valley executive decamped to Virginia after losing the United States Senate contest to Democrat Barbara Boxer in 2010.

However, that senate run may have a lot to do with Fiorina’s early selection by Cruz as his running mate.

Cruz (and the rest of the No-on-Trump GOP) is running out of time to prevent Trump from gaining the necessary delegates and forcing a contested convention in Cleveland. California is the big prize with 172 delegates. A strong showing by Trump in California could shut the door on the hopes of those who don’t want Trump to be the nominee.

But, it is important to know that California delegates are selected mainly by a candidate winning the Republican vote in each congressional district. Only registered Republicans can vote in the California Republican presidential primary.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 3.27.33 PMDespite Fiorina losing to Boxer by a million votes out of about 9.5 million votes cast in 2010 (Boxer 52%; Fiorina 42%), Fiorina defeated Boxer in 20 of California’s 53 congressional districts. The county map shown here shows Boxer’s strength (in blue) mostly along the coast and Fiorina’s victories (in red) generally inland.

Testing Fiorina’s strength in the closed Republican Primary of 2010, she captured all but five congressional districts won by former Congressman and State Finance Director, Tom Campbell, in the Bay Area — most likely Kasich country in the coming GOP primary.

The question for the Cruz campaign: will Fiorina’s 2010 effort in the congressional districts translate to the 2016 presidential campaign?

Fiorina is a good speaker and can connect with Republican voters when given the opportunity. The Cruz campaign has the best ground game in the state of all the Republican candidates so that should help.

Cruz’s gamble is that enough California voters remember Fiorina fondly to support his campaign so that he can grab enough congressional districts to stop Trump from getting the necessary delegates the New Yorker needs to prevent a convention fight.

Given the track record of California voters’ lack of knowledge about political contests once those contests have passed, that is a long bet. Maybe the Republican faithful will make a difference this time.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily