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Meg Whitman's entrance in California governor's race sets up Silicon Valley showdown

February 9, 2009 | 12:09 pm
Former EBay CEO Meg Whitman is running for governor of California
Former EBay Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman, shown here in 2005, announced that she's running for governor of California. (Credit: Ben Margot / Associated Press)

After months of dancing around the subject, former EBay Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman today finally made it official: She's running for governor of California as a Republican.

The announcement sets up a Silicon Valley showdown: Her prime competition from the GOP ranks looks to be Steve Poizner, the former high-tech executive who became California's insurance commissioner. Poizner made a fortune selling his start-up SnapTrak, to San Diego-based Qualcomm in 2000.

As Michael Finnegan writes today in a Times story about the gubernatorial contest, the candidates each are so rich from their success in high-tech business that they can afford to spend millions of dollars campaigning. He writes:

As a first-time candidate, Whitman faces enormous risks. She has never undergone the intense media scrutiny that accompanies any serious bid for high office. She has only begun to meet the state's vast network of Republican Party players. And with no experience in state office, she must study quickly the panoply of issues facing the nation's most populous state, among them a surge in unemployment, substandard public schools, traffic-clogged freeways and a dysfunctional Legislature that routinely fails to overcome budget shortfalls.

Another Republican considering a run: former Silicon Valley congressman Tom Campbell. Their potential challengers on the Democratic side include Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, as well Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Steve Poizner, candidate for governor of California
Whitman's chief rival: Steve Poizner, who is also a former Silicon Valley executive. (Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

-- Chris Gaither

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