Heavily Vaselined Ex-eBay CEO Running for California Governor
By Owen Thomas, ValleyWag
http://valleywag.gawker.com/5149924/hea ... a-governor
Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who did not even register as a Republican until 2007, has officially declared her intent to run for governor of California.
In her quest for political power, she has gone through a puzzling makeover. She first entered politics as the finance cochair for Mitt Romney's GOP presidential campaign, and then threw her support behind John McCain when Romney dropped out. McCain gave her a primetime speaking slot at the Republican National Convention (where she bombed). And she has now assembled a team of campaigns veterans who worked with Romney, George W. Bush, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
They will surely try to position her a centrist, business-friendly replacement for Schwarzenegger. But she is hardly that. Her support of Proposition 8, California's gay-marriage ban, has embittered many natural supporters in her home turf of northern California. Gay eBay employees, an influential group within the company, are especially furious at her betrayal. The new fees eBay pushed on sellers have tarnished her image as a friend of small businesses. And her failure to secure key domain names like meg2010.com, combined with her failed attempt to reclaim them from the man who registered them, hardly makes her seem tech-savvy.
Outside of the Bay Area, she is a virtual unknown; two-thirds of California voters have no opinion of her. Hence the soft-focus photo on her campaign homepage. Who is Meg Whitman? At this point, people who worked for her for years say they don't know. Perhaps that makes her the perfect political candidate: a blank slate of ambition, free of core beliefs, on whom political consultants can write whatever it takes to get elected.
Read More: Meg Whitman, California, eBay, Politics, Valleywag
Meg Whitman Now More Retired from eBay Than Ever
By Owen Thomas, ValleyWag
http://valleywag.gawker.com/5124029/meg ... -than-ever
The famously frumpy former CEO of eBay, Meg Whitman, is veering closer to entering California's governor 2010 race, quitting the boards of Procter & Gamble, eBay, and Dreamworks Animation SKG.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, can't run again because of California's term-limits laws, which means the 2010 race to replace the Governator is wide open on both sides — the only kind of scenario in which a political novice like Whitman might even consider running for office. (She could even face a former employee: Steve Westly, an eBay executive who won election as California's state controller in 2002, is a Democratic contender.)
Why won't Whitman just come out and say she's running as a Republican candidate? Her off-again, on-again efforts are increasingly bizarre. She didn't even register as a party member until 2007, when she started working on Mitt Romney's doomed campaign. She then staked out a far-right position on gay marriage, at odds with eBay's HR practices. She has yet to form an exploratory committee, a necessary step before she can start raising money for the 2010 election.
And yet she is taking vigorous action against a California businessman who registered several domain names related to a Whitman gubernatorial campaign. Henry Gomez, a former eBay executive who now serves as her spokesman, offered the lamest possible explanation for the effort: "We're retired. We're bored."
Whitman must be even more restless, now that she's quit her corporate boards. But her pseudocampaign is off to a rocky start. She hired Republican operative Steve Schmidt, who ran campaigns for George Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and John McCain, last fall — but he quietly quit the Whitman effort in December. One step forward, one step back. She's not even running, and yet Whitman's finding politics much harder than business.
Meg Whitman, homophobe
By Owen Thomas, ValleyWag
http://valleywag.gawker.com/5109035/meg ... -homophobe
With her unofficial bid to be California's governor, Meg Whitman, the billionaire former CEO of eBay, is leaning hard to the right. Her support of a gay marriage ban could doom her campaign.
Whitman, as we've noted, is an oddity among Silicon Valley Republicans, who tend to worry more about lower taxes than hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage. In the Republican presidential primaries, she supported Mitt Romney, a Mormon with conservative social views. But it wasn't until recently that Whitman started talking about her own support for Proposition 8, California's recently passed ban on same-sex marriages.
Henry Gomez, the former eBay superflack who's serving as an advisor to Whitman, told me this week that Whitman's stand was "a personal issue." Many gay eBay employees agree. They see Whitman's stance as a deeply personal betrayal. As the CEO of a company in a liberal industry in a liberal region, Whitman never gave a hint that she didn't value gay and lesbian employees' relationships. It turns out she was just being politic.
Whitman's longtime executive assistant, Anita Gaeta, is a lesbian, who owns a house with her partner in San Jose. I tried to contact Gaeta to get her views on the matter, but she did not respond. Gomez tells me Gaeta continues to work for Whitman.
But leave personal feelings aside. As a practical matter, Whitman's support of Proposition 8 may backfire in fundraising and in the general election. Several current and former eBay executives, including founder Pierre Omidyar, lent their name to a newspaper advertisement opposing Proposition 8. Will they support Whitman's campaign now? Unlikely.
Her stance could also hurt her former employer's business. Already, eBay sellers are organizing a boycott because of Whitman's stance. And no company likes to be drawn into controversial causes. One might think that her handpicked successor, John Donahoe, might prevail on Whitman to moderate her stance for that reason alone.
California prefers its Republicans to be centrists — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, another Proposition 8 opponent, is the best example of this trend. Whitman's top two contenders, former Representative Tom Campbell and Steve Poizner, the state's insurance commissioner, also opposed the proposition.
It all seems ill thought out — rather like Whitman's quixotic legal campaign to reclaim a set of domain names she failed to register before talk of her gubernatorial prospects became public. The sight of a tech billionaire harassing the small businessman who registered them are provoking giggles among California's Republicans.
Which is probably the right reaction to Whitman's stance on Proposition 8: not anger, but pity. Insulated by sycophantic advisors and accustomed to fawning coverage from a supine tech press corps, Whitman must not even realize what a joke her would-be political career is.
Read More: Politics, Meg Whitman, eBay, Pierre Omidyar, Prop 8, Proposition 8, Anita Gaeta, Henry Gomez, Top, Feature, Gawker
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