Meg Whitman has taken the first step toward a bid to become the next governor of California by forming an "exploratory committee" to seek the Republican nomination in 2010.
The move doesn't guarantee candidacy, but it's a formality in what seems likely to be the former eBay CEO's first political run.
Whitman honed her political chops during last year's presidential race in support of Republican candidate Mitt Romney and later John McCain. Now she has assembled a campaign team that includes several former eBay staffers as well as strategists linked to high-profile runs, including those of incumbent governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Past California governor Pete Wilson is her campaign chairman.
Whitman made the announcement Monday on her campaign Web site.
"California faces challenges unlike any other time in its historya weak and faltering economy, massive job losses and an exploding state budget deficit," she notes. "California is better than this, and I refuse to stand by and watch it fail."
The announcement confirms rampant speculation about Whitman's political aspirations. Such conjecture has persisted for years, but her role within the Republican Party was almost assured as she gained national prominence during the 2008 race.
Whitman, who ran eBay for 10 years before retiring almost a year ago, is largely credited with the company's success. During her tenure, eBay grew from a startup with 30 employees to a global entity with almost $8 billion in annual revenue.
However, many of those who track eBay's performance believe the site's current struggles with slipping market share are rooted in changes set in motion on her watch.
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.