If not for the introduction, those in the Orange County audience Wednesday might not have recognized Carly Fiorina.
She knew it too, because the first thing she said once taking the stage: "What's with the hair?"
Fiorina recently completed breast cancer treatment. She answered the hair question by saying she had been through surgery and chemo and radiation therapy, but said cancer was behind her and she was feeling great.
Then she got down to the business at hand.
Fiorina formally announced she is running for the U.S. Senate, after first making her bid public via an opinion piece in the OC Register. The former HP executive hopes to take on Senator Barbara Boxer next November.
Fiorina is known for her carefully tended blond hairstyle, but wore a extremely short cut Wednesday.
Fiorina said that after chemotherapy, she longer finds Boxer that scary.
Before she can take on Boxer, Fiorina will first will have to survive what could become a scalding Republican primary against state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who has worked feverishly to court GOP voters.
Hewlett Packard's board fired Fiorina in 2005 after she pushed through the company's acquisition of Compaq Computer Corp. in a deal that cost jobs and reduced HP's value. The company has since rebounded, but opinions differ over how much credit Fiorina deserves for that.
Fiorina's name is familiar in the business community, but she is virtually unknown to most voters.
She is one of four Silicon Valley executives to compete in a statewide race here in California.
All three Republicans who want to take over for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are on that list. Meg Whitman is the former CEO of eBay. Also, state insurance commissioner and high tech entrepreneur Steve Poizner as well as former congressman Tom Campbell also have deep ties to the Valley.
The 55-year-old served as economic adviser to John McCain's failed presidential bid last year, elevating her national profile, but an independent Field Poll last month found nearly three of four California voters didn't know enough about her to express an opinion.
Yet, Fiorina has plenty of money to broadcast her message. She received a $21 million severance package when she left HP -- a cash cushion that has made Boxer's team nervous.