Dueling tele-town halls and fundraising pleas in Senate race


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Call it the battle for the conference-call vote.

On the heels of a key fundraising deadline, Republican Senate candidates Tom Campbell and Carly Fiorina are simultaneously turning to some old-fashioned technology Wednesday evening to reach out to voters in the heated primary race to take on Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. They are dead even in recent polling, with the third GOP candidate, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, trailing.

Tele-town halls allow candidates to get their message across to thousands of likely voters in an hour or two, a reach difficult to replicate at traditional campaign rally events. Campbell has been a long-time user of the format, where likely voters are called and patched onto a conference call with a candidate. Fiorina is hosting her third tele-town hall.


Fiorina will take questions from voters starting at 7:30 p.m. Campbell will discuss his proposal to halve the federal budget deficit and take questions starting 15 minutes later.

Earlier Wednesday, the candidates raced to raise money before the fundraising deadline. Money raised between Jan. 1 and Wednesday will be disclosed in mid-April, and serve as a gauge of a campaign’s success and fundraising prowess for pundits and prognosticators. All four main candidates sent out pleas to supporters asking for donations.

“In less than 24 hours, my campaign reaches a critical deadline: the end of the first fundraising quarter,” Campbell wrote. “I’m pleased with our progress on all fronts in the 10 weeks since I entered the race, but if we can raise that little bit extra, it will allow us to fully fund our campaign plan for the primary.”

Rose Kapolczynski, Boxer’s campaign manager, wrote to the senator’s supporters, “Reaching this ambitious goal will send the press, pundits, and Barbara’s opponents a powerful message about the strength of our support.”

Fiorina appealed for an “emergency contribution” to counter Boxer’s “liberal Hollywood friends” who are helping the Democrat raise money, referring to a weekend e-mail sent by actors Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman on Boxer’s behalf.

DeVore’s campaign also appealed for money. “… we’ve seen tremendous momentum, and we’re ready to take this to the next level,” the campaign wrote in an e-mail to supporters.

-- Seema Mehta