The famously frumpy former CEO of eBay, Meg Whitman, is veering closer to entering California's governor 2010 race, quitting the boards of Procter & Gamble, eBay, and Dreamworks Animation SKG.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, can't run again because of California's term-limits laws, which means the 2010 race to replace the Governator is wide open on both sides — the only kind of scenario in which a political novice like Whitman might even consider running for office. (She could even face a former employee: Steve Westly, an eBay executive who won election as California's state controller in 2002, is a Democratic contender.)
Why won't Whitman just come out and say she's running as a Republican candidate? Her off-again, on-again efforts are increasingly bizarre. She didn't even register as a party member until 2007, when she started working on Mitt Romney's doomed campaign. She then staked out a far-right position on gay marriage, at odds with eBay's HR practices. She has yet to form an exploratory committee, a necessary step before she can start raising money for the 2010 election.
And yet she is taking vigorous action against a California businessman who registered several domain names related to a Whitman gubernatorial campaign. Henry Gomez, a former eBay executive who now serves as her spokesman, offered the lamest possible explanation for the effort: "We're retired. We're bored."
Whitman must be even more restless, now that she's quit her corporate boards. But her pseudocampaign is off to a rocky start. She hired Republican operative Steve Schmidt, who ran campaigns for George Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and John McCain, last fall — but he quietly quit the Whitman effort in December. One step forward, one step back. She's not even running, and yet Whitman's finding politics much harder than business.
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