SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Former eBay Inc Chief Executive Meg Whitman, one of the highest profile Republican technology executives in Silicon Valley, has formed a committee to explore running for governor of California in 2010, the first official step of a campaign.
The most populous U.S. state is known for its liberal, trend-making social ways, but it has a strong socially conservative element and a long history of electing Republican governors, from Ronald Reagan to current Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger.
California is in the middle of a fiscal crisis, with a $40 billion budget gap over a year a half, spiking unemployment and a continuing mortgage industry crisis.
“California faces challenges unlike any other time in its history - a weak and faltering economy, massive job losses, and an exploding state budget deficit,” Whitman, 52, said in a statement. “I refuse to stand by and watch it fail.”
Whitman built eBay from a tiny start-up to the dominant online auctioneer. She will face at least one other Republican tech exec in the battle for the party nomination — Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.
Reporting by Peter Henderson, Editing Patricia Zengerle