Whitman makes exploratory GOP bid

February 9, 2009 7:22:09 PM PST
Former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman is forming an exploratory committee to seek the Republican nomination for California governor.

Meg Whitman is a well known Silicon Valley name. The low key and effective CEO ran eBay from 1998 until last year.

Under her direction, the Internet auction site grew from a 30 person operation to 15,000 employees generating $8 billion a year in revenue.

Terry Christensen is a San Jose State University political science professor who says Whitman has an uphill battle reaching the Governor's Mansion.

"Business executives have a tough time getting elected in California because they may not have the political skills to get elected even if they have the management skills to governor once elected," said Christensen, Ph.D.

The 52-year-old Whitman registered as a republican in 2007 to support GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Then became a senior advisor to John McCain.

ABC7 talked with Whitman in March as she was leaving eBay.

"A lot of people say it's easy to figure out what to do, it's hard to get it done. Both are true. So we've tried to build a culture of accountability. I take accountability for what I say and will do and I think that has made a huge difference," said former eBay CEO Meg Whitman in March 2008.

Right now, the billionaire businesswoman faces two other Republicans, State Insurance Commissioner and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Pozier and former congressman Tom Campbell.

The chairman of the Santa Clara County Republican Party says the campaign for name recognition will be expensive.

"We've got three candidates from Northern California is a southern California half of the state which the LA/San Diego area need to know them well for a Republican candidate to win," said Steve Mullen from the Santa Clara County Republican Party.

Whitman has tapped former governor Pete Wilson to be her campaign chairman.

A spokesperson with Meg Whitman's exploratory committee told ABC7 she will make her first public speech as a candidate here in Silicon Valley on February 17th. That will kick off a whirlwind of speaking engagements from Southern California to Sacramento.