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Obama helps Sen. Barbara Boxer build war chest for reelection fight

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) of California is battling an anti-incumbent mood, tough economic times, and her image as the quintessential California liberal. President Obama is raising funds.

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Then there’s Boxer’s own personality, seen by supporters as a lively aggressiveness matching her name and by her opponents as an offensive prickliness. (Much was made of her recently insisting that a US general testifying to a Senate panel address her as “senator” and not “ma’am.”)

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As Boxer (who faces no Democratic opposition) aims to build up her $9.6 million campaign war chest, three Republicans are fighting it out as the June 8 primary approaches: former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina, former US Rep. Tom Campbell, and California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who represents conservative Orange County and is favored by tea partyers.

GOP candidates have their own fight

Polling among the three Republicans is mixed.

A Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll last week had Mr. Campbell leading Ms. Fiorina 37 to 22 percent, with DeVore a distant 14 percent among likely Republican primary voters and the rest undecided. But a SurveyUSA poll Monday had Fiorina ahead at 46 percent, with 23 percent for Campbell and 14 percent for DeVore. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has it as a dead heat between Fiorina and Campbell. The three were to have their final debate Tuesday afternoon.

How would Boxer do against either of the likely GOP challengers?

The PPIC poll finds her leading Campbell 46 to 40 percent and ahead of Fiorina 48 to 39 percent in hypothetical matchups.

A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in California in mid-May found Boxer leading Fiorina 45 to 38 percent but “in a virtual tie” with Campbell. “Sen. Barbara Boxer’s numbers are soft, and former Rep. Tom Campbell could give her a serious race if he is the GOP nominee,” writes political analyst Stuart Rothenberg.

“The prevailing question is whether Boxer is truly vulnerable,” according to the Cook Political Report. “Given the overall political environment and California voters’ discontent over the direction of the state and its battered economy, polling indicates that there might be an opening for Republicans even in a state as blue as California.”

The Cook organization has California’s US Senate race in the “lean Democratic” category. But political scientist Sabato has switched his from “lean Democrat” to “toss-up.”

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'Tea party' clout: What was learned from Sen. Robert Bennett loss

Arlen Specter out, Rand Paul advances, Blanche Lincoln fights on

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