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

Can tech personalities break into politics?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/28/art.whitmantech.gi.jpg caption="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. Rob

    Well, I think if we can have a failed community organizer, who we are now finding out didn't even write his ground-breaking "autobiography", become puppet...I mean president, then I'm sure someone with a successful track record in business will have no problem getting into office. Well, as long as enough people still view hard work as a plus.

    September 28, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  2. California Dreamin'

    Maybe she'll get our finance's in order by putting the majority of state property and landmarks on Ebay maybe even some of the state legislators (but probably wouldn't get much for them though). And hopefully she'll learn how to vote by the time the election rolls around.

    Can we get some real people to choose from, pleeeeeeze? This was really a nice place, once upon a time.

    September 28, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    Ask Whitman about her voting record. For someone who didn't care enough to exercise her civic duties, it is interesting that she has been embraced warmly by the extreme right wing of the California GOP.

    September 28, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. Jose

    Just wait until California becomes a buy it now and customer service (i.e. government services) are through a contact form that you get a response which makes no sense. Fraud of course will be high if she becomes governor and they will act as if it isn't. They will make changes unilaterally without really caring about their customers (or citizens). Each person will have a feedback score and DSR's and be paid or fined accordingly. I guess if all of that makes her qualified to be Governor, than anyone that votes to her has her ineptness coming to them. All you have to do is see what the state of ebay is and how much they screw their sellers to know what Meg will do. Ebay used to be a good company at one time.

    September 28, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  5. I can see Canada from my house!

    If she can't handle Civics 101, she has no business running for Governor. It makes no difference what party she belongs to.

    September 28, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  6. ANGIE IN PA

    Why would this woman expect anyone to vote for her when she doesnt vote?

    September 28, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    She's just another CEO who recieves excessively high compensation. She's not the right person for the job.

    September 28, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  8. Willy Brown

    Anyone would be better than the cheer leader in chief and his ilk we have now.

    September 28, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. Enough

    It would make more sense to have politicians with business backgrounds, they understand how to run things.............not like a community leader who's only business interest is UNION bailouts.

    September 28, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  10. Lcrawford

    This is crazy. Popularity is a big part of politics and always will be. The more people that you persuade to like you, the better off you are most the time. But I think this could be ruining politics. We need more true politics. Back on subject, a Tech personality can break into politics being CEO of a major company like eBay probably is like being head of state.

    September 28, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  11. Dee Dee Lynn

    Before touting Meg Whitman's credentials based on her experience as a CEO someone should look into her track record at Ebay.

    Ebay's stock value has been in the toilet for years, primarily because of bad decisions Whitman made (failure to break into the Asia market, overpaying for Skype, just for example).

    Moreover, many Ebay sellers, particularly the smaller sellers, feel that she drove them off of Ebay (intentionally) with numerous and unjustified increases in fees. Many people regard her as a killer of small businesses.

    She was no more interested in ebay buyers either. Ebay did not do anything about the huge numbers of counterfeit items for sale until they were sued, and they did little to guarantee any kind of buyer protection until it became obvious that they were losing buyers because they offered no such protection.

    In short, her record at Ebay suggests she has questionable business judgement, that she is hostile to small business and uninterested in consumers.

    Maybe California wants a governor with those credentials, but I wouldn't.

    September 28, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  12. Bob of Lompoc

    Just like the new rich – got lucky in business once, so that gives me the right to start at the top. These same people think they are too good to pay taxes, they want to control the race of people who are allowed to be happy, be masters over who can get married, the whole selfish, "me" centered Republican gang we have all been dealing with since the Right Wing took over Lincoln's Party. Nazis in business suits – including the females.

    September 28, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. Keeth in California

    Meg can't be bothered to vote, so I can't be bothered to vote for her.

    September 28, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. Kevin in Ohio

    A "tech geek" would certainly be more knowledgable on how to run things.... more so than a Hollywood type. And certainly more so than a community organizer.

    September 28, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  15. Amazing

    No more Actors or community organizers...............please! People who can successfully run a business have an understanding how budgets work and would be a much better asset for political office. Problem is, people don't want a tough, common sense approach because there would be cuts to pork programs, illegals benefits, welfare. It makes too much common sense and Democrats can't handle that.

    September 28, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  16. Wanda

    WOW another vacation for the president and his family! Anyone surprised???????? But don't forget we have NO MONEY!

    September 28, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  17. Vietnam Combat Veteran, Ohio

    Don't see why not. Look what is in politics now! Fresh blood could be worth the change.

    September 28, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  18. Reggie

    Take care of Iran, you worthless president!!!

    September 28, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  19. Reggie

    Smart business women and both republicans. Go figure!!!

    September 28, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  20. disgusted

    She's a CEO. Not a techie.

    September 28, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  21. Chipster

    Why not? What an odd question.

    September 28, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  22. aproudmemberoftheunpatrioticmob

    The real question is can a smart Republican woman win over the voters in a state that elects idiots like Maxine Waters, Henry Waxman and Nancy Pelosi. She probably is not crooked and corrupt enough to win those districts.

    September 28, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  23. Chris

    Heck I don't see why not since we've had various Actors run for political office. The funny thing about it we never really had just a plain ole down to earth common person run for office. It seems like folks who have political aspiration these days have to be rich and there in lies the paradox, because how will a rich person ever relate to a common or poor person needs?

    September 28, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  24. jayjohn

    Maybe she can replace the faulty chip in Obama's brain.

    September 28, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. Classy 57

    We probably need a lot of Meg Whitmans in California to fill all those liberal seats coming up for reelection. Go Meg!!!! I'm rooting for her all the way - she's got to be better than the current bozo or the one before him.

    September 28, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
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