GOP Senate candidate Tom Campbell pulls TV ads

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Frank Stoltze/KPCC

Former Congressman Tom Campbell speaks with reporters at the Museum of Tolerance in L.A., where he debated his two opponents in the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in California.

California GOP candidate Tom Campbell has pulled his TV ads for the U.S. Senate race one week before the Republican primary. Those who read political tea leaves say it means the former congressman has conceded the GOP nomination to former Hewlett Packard boss Carly Fiorina.

Tom Campbell didn’t sound like he was conceding defeat on a conference call with reporters this week.

“Don’t miss this historic opportunity — finally — to retire Senator Barbara Boxer.” Campbell said “Don’t do it!”

The former congressman said Tuesday he’d spend this week before the Republican primary getting his message out to voters. The moderate Campbell said he’ll tout the most recent L.A. Times-USC poll. That poll shows Campbell — not conservative Carly Fiorina or the more conservative Chuck DeVore — is the Republican most likely to beat incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer in November.

“I beat Barbara Boxer by seven points.” Campbell said “Fiorina loses by six. DeVore loses by 10.”

But as of last week, Campbell had only $400,000 left to spend on his campaign. That’s not enough to pay for a statewide media blitz — so Tom Campbell has pulled his TV ads.

“He has basically surrendered” said USC political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe. Bebitch Jeffe says without the money to get on television, Campbell’s campaign is dead in the water.

“The reality is if you have a message, and the message — the polls indicate he is the Republican who can beat Boxer — is a good message, you can’t get it out in California unless you’re on the air, unless you’re on the air repeatedly,” Bebitch Jeffe said.

Bebitch Jeffe says without TV, Campbell will lose any momentum he got from the L.A. Times-USC poll. Campbell’s problem is that same poll that said he could beat Barbara Boxer in the general election also showed he can’t beat Carly Fiorina in the primary.

Among Republicans likely to vote, Fiorina has a 38 to 23 percent edge over Campbell. Sherry Bebitch Jeffe says Fiorina’s lead might be because she’s slightly more conservative than Campbell, but it’s also because she’s got much deeper pockets.

“She can shovel any money she needs into her campaign funds to get on the tube, to get her message out, to go negative on Tom Campbell, and it is clear from what has happened that Tom Campbell did not have the wherewithal to respond.”

Case in point: during April and through most of May, Campbell raised more money from individual contributors than Fiorina did. But it didn’t make much difference. Fiorina got a loan of $3 million to keep her campaign well in the black. Who loaned Fiorina’s campaign the money? Fiorina did.

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