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If Fiorina opts for Senate bid, will 'I' come before 'you'?

August 27, 2009|MICHAEL HILTZIK

My guess is that Hurd won't be writing a personal memoir any time soon, and if he ever does it will be indescribably boring. On the plus side, Hurd's HP is regarded today as perhaps the nation's premier computer maker and a contender in the growing market for IT services. On his watch, its shares have more than doubled in price, handily outstripping the Nasdaq and S&P.

Fiorina contends that Hurd could not have succeeded had she not laid the groundwork. I leave it to you fair-minded readers to decide whether that's so.

There's no denying that Fiorina's HP board was a dysfunctional gang of egotists, but Hurd initially had to deal with the same people and survived, even navigating his way through a scandal involving the directors' investigation of boardroom leaks. She couldn't handle the board, and he did.

So what does all this tell us? From a financial or strategic standpoint, Fiorina's tenure at HP isn't well-regarded, except by herself. It didn't feature many new ideas, and when conditions demanded political agility, as in her relations with the board, she didn't have it.

But she's good at keeping herself the center of attention -- in a half-hour speech at Stanford in 2001, Anders relates, she used the word "I" more than 100 times. She may help Republicans appeal to intelligent voters who think there are too many Democrats in the Senate and are looking for a fresh face who's not nearly as loopy as Sarah Palin and way more articulate.

Will Californians consider her an upgrade from Boxer? We'll see. But the rarest quality in Congress is statesmanship. The first test of whether Fiorina has that to offer will be whether she makes the forthcoming race about us, rather than herself.

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Michael Hiltzik's column appears Mondays and Thursdays. Reach him at michael.hiltzik@latimes.com, read previous columns at www.latimes.com/hiltzik, and follow @latimeshiltzik on Twitter.

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