February 9, 2009 / 5:56 PM / 10 years ago

EBay ex-CEO Whitman plans run for California governor

Meg Whitman, former president and CEO of eBay Inc, speaks during the third session of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota in this file photo taken September 3, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files

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

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