Can big bucks buy blowouts in California? 

It's all about the money in California's Republican contests.

Wealthy former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina is leading the pack of three candidates seeking the GOP nod to take on incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat.

Fiorina is ahead by more than 15 points, according to the most recent polling, thanks in part to an aggressive and expensive television advertising campaign across the state. In a matter of weeks, she has been able to close a double-digit lead held by rival Tom Campbell, a former congressman turned college professor.

A third candidate, Tea Party conservative Chuck Devore, remains a distant third in the polls.

Campbell, a moderate, has struggled to keep pace with spending by the more conservative Fiorina. Even though he raised more campaign cash from donors this past quarter, she infused her bid with $5.5 million of her own money. At one point last week, Campbell was forced to pull television ads when he ran short of funds. He is now airing a new TV spot telling voters that a recent poll shows him leading Boxer in a general matchup poll, while Fiorina trails her.

The GOP gubernatorial primary has dwarfed spending in the Senate race, with former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman pouring in $71 million of her own money with positive results. Whitman is expected to easily beat opponent Steve Poizner, the state's insurance commissioner. Poizner spent a mere $25 million of his own money on the campaign and now trails Whitman by more than 25 points in the polls.

The winner will face Attorney General Jerry Brown, a Democrat who served as governor from 1975 to 1983.

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Susan Ferrechio

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