Former eBay CEO Running for Governor?

Whitman leaves boards, source says she'll seek office.

by staff writer
- Jan 05, 2009

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman stepped down from three corporate boards Dec. 31, fueling rumors that she is getting set to run for the California governor's seat in 2010.

Whitman left the boards of eBay, Proctor & Gamble Co. and Dream Works SKG. An unidentified source close to Whitman tells the Associated Press the resignations are a "strong indication" she doesn't want to have commitments that may keep her from seeking office.

According to the source, Whitman—who stepped down as eBay's CEO last March—made the decision to run during the holidays and should make an official announcement in the coming weeks. Whitman, Rep. Tom Campbell and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner are the three Republican front-runners expected to vie for office. And according to a Field Research Corp survey released in November, Whitman is the favorite among them.

Whitman's potential Democratic opponents include former Gov. Jerry Brown, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Whitman's impressive business background could garner votes even though she has never run for office, says Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College.

"She comes from business—and claiming to have created jobs in this economy isn't bad," he notes.

Others, including Bob Mulholland, a spokesman for the California Democratic Party, aren't so sure. Whitman supported John McCain during his 2008 campaign for the presidency, and he lost by a large margin in California, he says.

"If she thinks she can pay to be loved by California voters, she'd be making a big mistake," Mulholland asserts.

Whitman isn't the first eBay executive to seek political office. Steve Westly, one of eBay's first employees, served as State Controller of California after leaving eBay in 2000. He made an unsuccessful run at the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2006, the year Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was re-elected.

About the Author

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.

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