Third-term incumbent Barbara Boxer won the California Senate race on Tuesday, helping Democrats maintain their majority in the U.S. Senate.
“From the time I was elected to that first office from way back, I only had one reason for why I went into politics and that was to make life better for the people I represent,” Boxer said her victory speech on Tuesday night. “That’s who I am, that’s who I’m about.”
Boxer, 69, defeated Republican candidate Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, a position that experts said worked against the conservative senatorial candidate.
“Boxer proved to be an effective candidate. She’s a forceful speaker and has a lot of confidence,” said Tom Hollihan, a political expert and professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.
Hollihan also mentioned that there have been complaints about how Fiorina, 56, led Hewlett-Packard during the financial meltdown.
“Questions about [Fiorina’s] leadership at Hewlett-Packard were damaging to her,” Hollihan said. “Being a former corporate CEO was not the ideal position.”
After serving as a member of the House of Representatives for 10 years, Boxer joined the Senate in January 1993. California re-elected Boxer for a third term in 2004 when she won 6.9 million votes, marking a record for the most votes for a senatorial candidate in the country’s history.
“Boxer’s experience has been a big factor in this campaign,” said Ann Crigler, interim director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. “That’s how Fiorina has run her campaign — running against Boxer’s career.”
A strong supporter of Boxer’s campaign proved to be President Barack Obama, who recently visited USC in late October to fundraise and rally support for her.
“Obama’s visit helped motivate people because people in California still like the president and feel more favorable toward him,” Crigler said.
At the “Moving America Forward” rally — hosted in Alumni Park and attended by 37,500 people — Obama and Boxer both vocalized the need for Democrats to prevail in order to fight for the middle, advocate for the Latino community and overcome financial hardship.
Though Republicans took control of the House of Representatives after Tuesday’s election, experts said Boxer’s re-election helped Democrats maintain control of the Senate.
“The outcome of the California election is important because it keeps the control of the Senate in the hands of the Democrats, which means that there’s one house of the legislature where Democrats get to control the committee structure,” Hollihan said.