* Whitman and Fiorina to take on Democratic veterans
* Voters hate career politicians and CEOs - analyst
* Calif. governor race to set spending record
By Peter Henderson and Jim Christie
SAN FRANCISCO, June 8 Two powerful Silicon
Valley businesswomen won Republican nominations for California
governor and the U.S. Senate on Tuesday after capitalizing on
their business acumen -- and their personal fortunes.
California Republicans, who see a grim future for their
economically battered state, chose former eBay Inc (EBAY.O)
chief Meg Whitman to face former Democratic governor Jerry
Brown in the race to succeed Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Confidence in government is scraping bottom in the most
populous U.S. state, which is facing record 12.6 percent
unemployment and a $20 billion government budget gap.
Carly Fiorina, another wealthy political novice and former
chief executive of computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N),
trounced her opponents to win the Republican nomination for
U.S. Senate in California.
Both women led their closest opponents by more than
two-to-one in early returns, and local media projected they
Fiorina will face Senator Barbara Boxer, a powerful liberal
Democrat and ally of President Barack Obama on climate change,
which may be a major issue in the November races.
"Career politicians in Sacramento and Washington be warned
-- you now face your worst nightmare: two businesswomen from
the real world who know how to create jobs, balance budgets and
get things done!" Whitman said in a victory speech.
But Brown lambasted Whitman for a "billionaire's demolition
derby" of out-of-control campaign spending.
Whitman has put the governor's race on track to be the most
expensive contest in U.S. history outside a presidential
election, spending some $80 million in the primary and donating
$91 million to herself. Her opponent also spent millions.
"They both say they want to run the state like a business
but they set a national record for excessive spending," Brown
told supporters, according to a campaign statement.
CREATURE OF WALL ST.
The Democrats faced no real opposition in the primaries
while Whitman's opponent Steve Poizner called her a creature of
Wall Street, because she was a director at Goldman Sachs for
about a year, and Fiorina rival Tom Campbell derided her
controversial tenure at HP.
Those themes are likely to rise again, said Dan Schnur,
recently appointed chairman of California's Fair Political
"We're currently experiencing the greatest wave of populist
anger that the body politic has seen in almost 20 years in the
country, but the only people that voters dislike as much as
career politicians are wealthy CEOs. We'll see who they hate
more this November," he said.
Voters also approved a massive change in voting rules that
will turn party primary elections into an open first round
election that chooses two finalists -- who could be from the
same party -- to face off in the general election.
Supporters had argued politicians would be forced to move
toward the middle, easing gridlock that has stopped budget
reform in its tracks. Local media also forecast the result
based on early returns.
California has a long history of voting for political
outsiders, such as current Governor Schwarzenegger, a former
movie star, and polls show voter trust in government near
Brown became governor the first time in 1975, before term
limits, and built a quirky reputation by eschewing the
governor's mansion and dating singer Linda Ronstadt.
Brown argues that he can reform the system from within,
while Whitman, who has quickly gained comfort as a campaigner,
says she brings an independence and business-like focus that a
career politician cannot match.
Fiorina offers a rags-to-riches tale of rising from
secretary to chief executive and espouses conservative social
values while Boxer is seeking a fourth Senate term and is an
Whitman and Brown offered "one of the great contrasts of
American politics going into the fall," said Bill Whalen, a
research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a former
speechwriter for former Governor Pete Wilson.
"If elected he would be the nation's only septuagenarian
governor, in a state that worships youth. She's never served a
day in office," Whalen said.
(Reporting by Peter Henderson, Jim Christie and Dan Whitcomb,
editing by Anthony Boadle)