Carly Fiorina continues to signal that she may challenge Virginia Senator Tim Kaine in 2018.
“Well, I haven’t even begun to think about that,” Fiorina told the American Media Institute on Friday, using a classic political formulation that leaves all options on the table. It followed a radio interview earlier this month in which she said, “I’m certainly looking at that opportunity.”
The former Hewlett-Packard CEO and presidential candidate has lived in Virginia since her unsuccessful bid to unseat California Senator Barbara Boxer in 2010. Although Fiorina lost that race by 10 points, it was the most competitive showing for a Republican for Golden State Senate seat since 1994.
Whatever her plans, Fiorina is staying in the arena. On Friday she addressed the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference, a four-day event that drew nearly 10,000 people to Oxon Hill, Maryland a suburb of Washington D.C.
Fiorina used her remarks to espouse traditional conservative principles regarding limited government and free markets. “We have to say disperse power … back to where it belongs,” she said in one of three attacks on concentrated political power she made during her remarks.
She also drew on her global experience to suggest ways to strengthen the economy at home. After describing the transformative impact of microfinance efforts to grow small businesses in India, she said that such an approach work in America as well. Giving her remarks a sharp conservative tinge, she said it would help built opportunity and independence in a nation that has “woven people’s lives into webs of entitlements that last generations.”
Fiorina reflected on her recent political campaign in an oblique way during her remarks. A “good fight is fun,” she said. “You guys know: I can land a punch, OK? It’s good to have a fight it’s really good to have a fight when you win.”
Although Fiorina has never won a general election, she has shown an appetite for the fight. During the 2016 GOP primary, she was one of the first candidates to directly take on Donald Trump. After quitting the race, she re-emerged as Ted Cruz’s running mate at the end of his unsuccessful campaign.
Given her track record of picking uphill battles with long odds, a run for Virginia’s Senate seat makes sense for Fiorina.
The once reliably red state has turned blue in recent years. It was the only southern state carried by Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine.
A recent poll Quinnipiac University Poll found Carly Fiorina and conservative commentator Laura Ingraham as dead even among likely voters in the Republican primary. Both Republicans, however, lost to Senator Kaine in a hypothetical match-up by 20 points.
After her speech, a group of CPAC attendees gathered at an exit to the CPAC stage where they hoped Fiorina might emerge.
“I think Fiorina has an advantage,” said Mathew Carpenter a CPAC attendee from Yorktown who joined that circle, “I think her presidential run helped her. I think people in Virginia now know her better and will like her a lot more than Laura Ingraham.”