Former eBay CEO to run in 2010

Legal News Line Feb. 9, 2009, 12:28pm

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline)- Meg Whitman, former eBay Chief Executive Officer, announced her candidacy for the 2010 race for governor on Monday, the Los Angeles Times is reporting.

Whitman, 52, is the third Republican candidate to announce, joining State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who like Whitman is a self-made billionaire with a strong business background and former Assemblyman Tom Campbell.

GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be termed out of office and can not seek re-election.

In preparation for the run, Whitman began resigning several prominent board seats on Dec. 31 "for personal reasons," according to her spokesman Henry Gomez, who said she wants to focus on "other things."

Political analyst Tony Quinn said the resignations help her avoid potential conflicts as a candidate for governor.

"Running for governor is a full-time job," Quinn said.

Whitman jumped into the California political scene last year, as national co-chair of Republican Presidential nominee John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008. Whitman gave a steady speech during the Republican convention and McCain floated her name as a possible Secretary of the Treasury during a president debate.

During the convention, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hinted that Whitman had political plans of her own, beyond advising McCain.

"I don't think he'll get a chance to listen to her," Romney said, "because you need her in California."

Whitman has never ran for elected office. During her decade-long tenure as the CEO of eBay she guided the fledging Internet company from roughly 30 employees into a multi-billion dollar company. Time Magazine has ranked her as one of the world's most influential people on several occasions.

But Whitman also drew criticism in the fall amid reports that she hadn't cast a ballot in more than half of the state's most important elections since 2002, including the historic recall election of Gov. Gray Davis in 2003.

"I know it's no excuse, but for years she was heads down in her business and her family," Gomez said when her voting record first came to light. "She didn't vote when sometimes she should have."

She became a Republican, according to court documents, in 2007. Gomez said she grew up in a Republican family, but chose "decline-to-state" as her party preference upon moving to California.

According to the latest poll, Campbell held a narrow 15 to 14 percent lead over Whitman. Poizner had just four percent support.

The eventual GOP nominee will face stiff competition from Democrats, whose field is expected to include several high-profile candidates, including Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has ran for President of the United State three times and was governor of California from 1975 to 1983.

The latest poll, unique in that it is the first to cast all of the presumed contenders in the race, found that 36 percent of those polled favored U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Brown came in second with 14 percent, followed by a tie between Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom with 9 percent each. The only candidate to formally announce his plans to run, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi had just 4 percent support.

The poll was conducted among registered voters from Jan. 22-25 by Pollster Probolsky Research. According to the political Web site Daily Kos, Feinstein is the only candidate from either party that would begin with the race as a substantial favorite.

But the Kos spectulated Feinstein is leaning against running because of her powerful post as the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the practical matter that she would be 77 years old by the time she took office.

Feinstein told MSNBC host Chris Mathews last week that she was still considering whether to run. "I'm one of those people that never says never," she said, stating she wouldn't make up her mind any time soon.

Brown has led all Democratic polls that don't include Feinstein. The attorney general made several public appearances in the past few days, including calling for federal stimulus funds to be used to improve public safety in California and attending the grand opening of the Historic Fox Theater in Oakland, Calif. on Thursday night. Brown was the mayor of Oakland when funds to restore the theater as a central part of revitalizing the crime-ridden downtown of the city were authorized.

More News