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Meg Whitman reconsiders Republican-only hiring policy

March 17, 2010 |  3:43 pm
Meg Whitman is trying -- and so far, polls show, succeeding -- to convince Republican voters to make her their candidate for governor this year. But on Tuesday, she said she had changed her mind about one of the more seemingly partisan promises she had made -- that she would hire Republicans for the 300 top positions in her administration.

"You are only as good as the people who work for you, so the appointments process is No. 1," Whitman told delegates at the state Republican convention in Santa Clara on Friday. "And I will interview every one of those individuals -- and by the way, they will be Republicans." The audience cheered.

Asked by The Times at a campaign stop Tuesday to explain why she didn't think she could find any qualified Democrats, Whitman replied, "What you can't have when you are running an organization is everyone running off in different directions based on different ideologies .... Let's have one focus, one way we're going to go with our appointed officials .... Generally speaking, you have to anchor in an ideology, and I would want to anchor in the ideology of Republican principles."

In mentioning advisors running off in different directions, Whitman was alluding to the beginning of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's tenure, when he had Democratic and Republican factions that did not always mesh. But later, Whitman called reporters who had attended the event to say that she had been thinking more about the issue and did not want to make party label a deciding factor.

"I don't actually want to do a check on, 'Are you a registered Republican or a registered Democrat?' " she said. "What I want are people in my administration who are philosophically aligned. That may be mostly Republicans .... but I don't want to leave the impression that if you're a Democrat, forget about it, you don't have a place in my administration."

-- Michael Rothfeld in Sacramento