September 28th, 2009
09:50 AM ET
5 years ago

Can tech personalities break into politics?

Can Meg Whitman move from a successful career in Silicon Valley to the world of rough-and-tumble politics?
Can Meg Whitman move from a successful career in Silicon Valley to the world of rough-and-tumble politics?

FULLERTON, California (CNN) - Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger have both done it. So did astronaut John Glenn and basketball great Bill Bradley. Even Jesse Ventura was able to capitalize on a wrestling career as a way to leap into the political ring.

But what about a tech geek?

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman wants to move into politics with a run for the job of governor of California in 2010. In doing so, she is, in effect, trying to prove that high-tech personas have become mainstream and trusted enough to take up political office. Although movie stars and astronauts have paved routes from fame to politics, tech moguls largely have not broken into major elected offices.

To make things all the more dramatic, one of Whitman's main opponents, Steve Poizner, is also a Silicon Valley mogul.

Whitman is not the first successful person from the tech world to attempt a leap into politics, but she is perhaps the most well-known, said Mark Z. Barabak, a political writer at the Los Angeles Times. Less famous tech personalities have run for lower offices in California and have had some success, he said.

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Filed under: Meg Whitman
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Kate in San Diego

    Why should I elect someone who can't even take the time to vote? Why should someone with no interest in how this country is run be allowed to run it? I thought this one would be better than Fiorino but now I'm not so sure. And since when does being good at some specific businsess mean you are an expert on government?

    September 28, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  2. Chris

    Techie? She wouldn't know an abstract method from a left outer join. You newsies are so desperate to sell the news that you invent new "angles" on old stories, based on the flimsiest of distinctions.

    And does anyone really think it's techies who are not "mainstream" and "trusted" enough for public service? I would have thought lawyers would capture that distinction, or corporate executives (like, um, oh I don't know, maybe Meg Whitman), or televangelists. I mean, THEY are the ones who don't seem to have a clue as to how the rest of us live (but think they should run our lives!). Techies? We're practically salt-of the-earth these days.

    Last I checked, it was reporters, not techies, who have the real image problem. Perhaps you could do a story on the death of serious journalism.

    September 28, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. Will-South Dakota

    Another Millionaire looking out for the status quo........recycled has been.....look out California.

    September 28, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Jimmy

    Here in California they couldn't handle a smart woman who wants to balance the budget and make cuts, the Unions will put up a big fight to keep her out, they want business as usual.......tax and spend. Unfortunately California has become the Gimme state for every free loader around and we will be hard pressed to get anything other than a tax and spend Democrat. And they wonder why we are bankrupt!

    September 28, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. morris diehl

    another rightwing neocon coward, who hasn't voted and ran a company that spied on people wants to be a govenor. She has exactly no chance of winning in California. Her cross to bare is steroid boy Arnold and his lack of compassion. Arnold is so hated in our state that he didn't care that he vetoed a bill recognizing Viet Nam vets with a special day in their honor. Typical republican lowlife crap and the Ebay twit brings the same thing to the table. Let her run in some twit state like Texas.

    September 28, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
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