Tom Campbell to drop out of CA gubernatorial race

January 12, 2010 7:26:46 PM PST
A major contender in the governor's race is dropping out. Republican Tom Campbell is expected to announce later this week that he is no longer running for California's top job -- instead he has decided to enter the race for a U.S. Senate seat.

Just yesterday Campbell told ABC7 he was not dropping out of the governor's race and that he looked forward to campaigning. Tonight, ABC7 is hearing that Campbell is already breaking the news to his supporters.

Campbell, a former congressman, has been running second in the polls behind former eBay CEO Meg Whitman but he has been dead last in the money race. Whitman and former Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Poizner have millions of their own money to spend and Campbell's fund raising has not been able to compete.

"I think that he's seen it's a very difficult row to hoe on the gubernatorial level, both at the primary level and how he would match up against Jerry Brown in the general [election]," Duf Sundheim said.

Sundheim is the former head of the California Republican Party. He says Campbell is in the process of informing supporters that he is switching to the Republican Senate primary against former Hewlett Packard chief Carly Fiorina and Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

"In the end it really must come down to his perception that Carly Fiorina is a much weaker candidate than Meg Whitman," ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain said.

Campbell has run twice before for the U.S. Senate, losing in the primary in 1992 and then in 2000 he won the Republican nomination but lost to Dianne Feinstein in the general election.

Today, a spokesperson for Fiorina told ABC7, "If Tom Campbell thinks the third time's a charm in running for the Senate he may find out that it's more like three strikes and you're out."

The head of California's Democratic Party says Fiorina has the most to lose if Campbell enters the Senate race because both Fiorina and Campbell are moderate Republicans compared to DeVore.

"And I think he's going to be very tough and I think this is going to make it tougher because he's got his vote and now you've got two people chopping up what's left," John Burton said.

Campbell has not returned calls for comment. His campaign will not confirm or deny the reports but Campbell has scheduled two press conferences for the day after tomorrow, one in Los Angeles and one in San Jose.