"Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina spent $22m taking a shot a California state senate in 2010, too, to topple career Democrat and seat-holder Barbara Boxer."
First, Fiorina ran for a US Senate seat. The California state senate is another entity entirely. It sits in Sacramento and has forty members, each representing not quite a million persons. (http://senate.ca.gov/senators)
Second, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a celebrity already. Peter Thiel is moderately well known, mostly for doing to Gawker what Schwarzenegger's characters did to movie bad guys. But does his celebrity extend outside techie and journalistic circles?