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EBay founder won't endorse Meg Whitman for governor

Pierre Omidyar, who created EBay and hired Meg Whitman as his company's chief executive, said Tuesday that he would not endorse her and would find it "difficult" to vote for her for governor if he still lived in California.

Omidyar praised Whitman's leadership skills and said she would do a "great job" if elected, but said he could not back her candidacy because of her stance on gay marriage and her alignment with former Gov. Pete Wilson.

Wilson, who is a co-chairman of Whitman's campaign, was a vocal supporter of taking away taxpayer-funded benefits from illegal immigrants.

"Now I have not endorsed her because we have some differences on some of the political issues," Omidyar, who is now based in Hawaii, told Bloomberg TV in an interview that will air Wednesday on "InBusiness with Margaret Brennan." "I was disappointed in her not-correct decision, in my view, to support Proposition 8 in California. I was disappointed in her alignment with former Governor Pete Wilson on immigration issues, who I think took some very extreme views years ago about denying benefits to illegal immigrants. And so because of those types of issues, I think we are a little bit apart, and I can't quite support her because of that."

The billionaire philanthropist has avoided weighing in on Whitman's candidacy until now. The GOP candidate's campaign is staked on her experience at EBay, which she led as it grew from a small Silicon Valley start-up into a multibillion-dollar success story. Whitman has featured former EBay employees in her ads and peppers campaign speeches with references to her experiences at the online auction powerhouse.

Omidyar is not alone in among EBay insiders who do not support Whitman. Steve Westly, a Democrat who sought the governorship in 2006, is holding a fundraiser later this week for Whitman's Democratic rival, Jerry Brown. Omidyar has a lengthy history of donating to Democratic politicians, but he has supported Republicans as well.

Omidyar, who wrote the computer code for what became EBay when he was 28, lavished praise on Whitman's decade-long tenure at EBay.

"She is a fantastic executive. She did a great job at EBay," he said. "Her real skill is using data to inform strategic decisions, and bringing teams together, putting the right people in the right jobs at the right time. So I think on that basis, I think she would do a great job as governor." He also pledged to "absolutely" work with Whitman if she is elected.

"I think she would do a great job," he said. "And I would work of course to change her mind on some of these other issues."

-- Seema Mehta in Los Angeles

 
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