Whitman '77 rumored to seek California governorship
Meg Whitman ’77 has resigned from the boards of directors of eBay, Procter & Gamble and DreamWorks SKG, leading to wide speculation that she is preparing to run for governor of California in 2010. Whitman, a former University trustee, stepped down from her position as eBay CEO in March. Her resignations were effective Dec. 31, 2008.
Whitman, who officially joined the Republican Party in 2006, also recently hired a public relations firm in Sacramento.
In February 2008, Whitman denied any political aspirations in an e-mail to The Daily Princetonian. “I don’t see myself running for office,” she said.
Nonetheless, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday that an unnamed Whitman confidant expects a formal announcement of Whitman’s intention to run within the next four to six weeks. The governorship will be vacated in 2010 by term-limited Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).
Whitman was the finance co-chair for former Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney before he announced that he would end his campaign for the GOP nomination. She later became a national co-chairwoman on Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) campaign.
The 2008 campaign was Whitman’s introduction to the national political scene. She told the ‘Prince’ in February that “[Romney’s] campaign gave me a deep appreciation for the political process, and I’ll probably continue to support candidates I believe in.”
With a net worth of $1.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine, Whitman could make a large financial contribution to her campaign. Campaign finance laws do not restrict the amount of personal money that candidates may spend seeking office.
A November poll conducted by the Field Research Corp. showed that 23 percent of registered Republican Californians had a favorable rating of Whitman and nine percent had an unfavorable rating. Both were the strongest numbers out of the three Republicans the poll described as potentially interested in running for governor.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein had the highest overall support among voters of both parties combined, with 50 percent holding a favorable impression of her and 11 percent holding an unfavorable impression.
Former congressman Tom Campbell and state insurance commissioner Steve Poizner were the other two Republicans. Poizner is another wealthy former Silicon Valley executive, having sold SnapTrack Inc., the company he founded, to Qualcomm Inc. in 2000 for $1 billion.
Whitman majored in economics at Princeton before getting her MBA from Harvard Business School. In 2002, she made a $30 million donation to the University to construct the residential college that now bears her name.
Whitman’s Princeton legacy includes her two sons, Griff Harsh ’09 and Will Harsh ’11.
The original version of this article listed an incorrect class year for Griff Harsh.