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Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive who lent her campaign $5.5 million to win the California GOP primary to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, was fired from HP in 2005 and walked away with a $21 million severance package, even as the company’s stock price plummeted. Her opponents have used her corporate record against her.

But for all the public relations headaches, ready money and deep pockets also allow candidates to try innovative tactics others can’t afford.

In New Hampshire, Senate candidate Jim Binder used some of his $1.5 million in personal campaign spending to sponsor a concert with an “American Idol” contestant to attract attention to his lagging Republican primary campaign. His opponent, Bill Binnie, also has given his campaign $3.5 million of his estimated $400 million fortune, flooding the airwaves in his race against former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte.

Ms. Whitman, whose wealth was estimated at $1.3 billion by Forbes magazine last year, used in-depth microtargeting of voters in her primary race. Recently, she responded to attacks from California’s powerful nurses union by buying a list of registered nurses and sending mailers to some calling out their own union leaders.

While it might be a stretch for millionaires and billionaires to paint themselves as underdogs and outsiders, many are clearly trying to ride what they hope will be voter discontent with professional politicians.

On election night in the California primary, Ms. Whitman immediately linked her candidacy to that of Ms. Fiorina, although she had rarely before mentioned their shared history working on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

“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,” she said.