Sorry for not reporting this bit of hilarity last night. Meg Whitman, the former chief executive officer of eBay, officially declared her intent to run for governor of California. Whitman is running as a Republican—but did not register as a Republican until 2007.
The move by the billionaire businesswoman—establishment of an "exploratory" committee – likely sets up what's expected to be an expensive 17-month auction between herself and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner in the 2010 Republican primary.
Whitman is pitching herself as a financial expert in tough economic times.
"California faces challenges unlike any other time in its history – a weak and faltering economy, massive job losses, and an exploding state budget deficit," Whitman said in a statement. "California is better than this, and I refuse to stand by and watch it fail."
The 52-year old is a political rookie who has never held elective office. If elected, she would be the first female governor in California history.
Whitman is likely to be re-packaged as a centrist, technology- and business-friendly replacement for Gov. Schwarzenegger but that would be misleading. In the primaries, Whitman first supported anti-gay right-wing technocrat Mitt Romney and then John McCain. And while most Silicon Valley Republicans are more concerned with lower taxes than right-wing screeds such as gay marriage, Whitman was a major supporter of Proposition 8, California's recently passed ban on same-sex marriages. The former eBay executive was only one of 3 likely Republican gubernatorial candidates to support the ban.
Tech industry blog Vallleywag reports gay and lesbian eBay employees, "an influential group within the company, are especially furious at her betrayal." Henry Gomez, the former eBay communications honcho who's serving as an advisor to Whitman, tells Gawker 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."
Whitman's business and technology credentials are also being mocked. "The new fees eBay pushed on sellers have tarnished her image as a friend of small businesses, " Vallleywag reports. "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."