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

Can tech personalities break into politics?

[cnn-photo-caption image= 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. phoenix86

    I hope so. Government needs people with actual executive skills. We see the disaster of "community organzing" skills and governments will need business leadership to fix this mess.

    September 28, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  2. Chris (NY)

    Personally, anyone running for public office whom has "Republican" or "Libertarian" associated with their name gets a big thumbs down from this voter. In particular, if that person has a "corporate leadership" background. I am not a fan of Meg Whitman, Ronald Reagan or Carly Fiorina, and Arnold Schwarzenegger needs to switch political parties, already.

    September 28, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  3. Lois

    McCain sang the praises of this woman, and we all know what judgement McCain has, eh?

    September 28, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. jaye

    Whitman, john mcshames most admired person (LOL), is just another idiot republican.
    Just because she was involved with e-bay dosen't mean she'll be a good politician, but, republicans like anybody that will criticize our president, so, they'll like her a lot.
    Republicans are loud, foul mouthed, racist, do-nothings.

    September 28, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. Boehnhead

    Can tech personalities break into politics?


    September 28, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  6. j

    Why not, it`s a free country. We`ve had actors, farmers, lots of lawyers, besides, who better to serve corporate better than one of their own.

    September 28, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. GI Joe

    If a village idiot can be in the top job (family values my azz) for 8 years, I guess a smart female should get a chance to straighten out what another republican put california into – bankruptcy.

    Clean it up Meg – get rid of foreigners, that should do it. NEXT

    September 28, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  8. david

    apparently meg just registered to vote about 2002 and there is no record of her voting before that year. when she registered, she registered as a republican. if the republican base falls for this woman, or any republican for that matter, then truly the GOP is dead. meg has some brass ones, give her that for sure for passing herself off not only as a republican but as a concerned citizen voter. yeah, right.

    September 28, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. Farrell in Houston

    Why not, John McCain, uneducated and unqualified brought to the front someone just like him, Sarah Palin to run for VP. Atleast this woman is educated and I'm sure she is well traveled and doesn't sound like a nut case.

    September 28, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  10. Rob

    I think the key factors would be:

    1) Have a terrorist write your autobiography, claim you did it all on your own.

    2) Have such super-smart stars as Susan Sarandon go around saying, "Well, Jesus' mother was a woman too."

    3) Do give any specifics. When pressed for answers, just say "Change"

    4) Get Oprah on your side.

    5) Fix it so that whenever Chris Mathews sits at his desk, a small electrical charge will send a tingly feeling up and down his leg.

    6) Apologize for everything America did before you stepped into politics.

    Do these six steps right, and you'll win. Just look what it did for Obama.

    September 28, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  11. LacrosseMom(stuck in moderation)

    My husband is a TECHIE, this woman IS NOT! Do not insult the TECH world with this misleading headline!

    September 28, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. luc

    Most CEOs of large companies are not techies. They are second only to politicians in playing politics. In my honest opinion, they are major contributors to the bad economic conditions.

    September 28, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. mjm

    Someone who knows how to run a business? Make money?

    Why would California vote for that?

    September 28, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  14. jsilver

    Ask any old time eBay user-

    Meg Whitman stole eBay's soul and turned it into a Walmart of junk that fleeces small sellers at every turn and services best those that sell huge amounts of mass media garbage.

    Buyers are left with amazing ammounts of garbage to sort through and fewer of the kind of auctions that built eBay.

    Best Match for Meg Whitman = Assisted Living.

    Not, stalking horse for Mitt Romney campaign- if she wins California and Mitt gets nominated she will be the VP choice- that will be the funniest to watch Joe Biden rip her to shreds-

    What a looser! Bring her on!

    September 28, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  15. J-dizzle

    Why is this Whitman considered a tech geek? Just because she works for a tech company doesn't mean she has any technical background. Just ask the no-nothing CEO's at the top of many tech companies how tech savvy they are. Half of them wouldn't know how to change their own flat tire.

    September 28, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  16. Jefe

    How 'bout a tech personality who isn't a dismal failure? I'd love to see some of the best and brightest get into politics, in either party. They don't have the level of corruption that bankers, attorneys, and big Phama execs do, but Meg Whitman's career is an outright abomination.

    September 28, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  17. Diana

    I'm a Californian and after seeing what the last Republican did to our state I will NOT vote, Republican, (even though I didn't vote for this one, nobody did – they stole it with a recall).

    Besides, what's her record? She hasn't bothered to vote in the past twenty to thirty years, what does she stand for?

    September 28, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  18. Bush's "Suck"cess: My Pet Goat, Mission Accomplished & Heckuva Job Brownie

    Wasn't our last president a failed CEO of many ventures? Please, we've already suffered enough damage form these "business" types who think they can "run" anything. I work in health care and have seen the "business model" ruin what used to be a field of human service rather units (business lingo for humans) labeled, timed and measured.

    September 28, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  19. JIlli

    Why elect someone that didn't take the time to even vote in the past? We're supposed to believe she believes in civil responsibility? Forgetaboutit.

    September 28, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  20. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    She doesn't vote. Maybe her followers won't vote either.

    September 28, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. pa. independent

    Meg Whitman doesn't vote!! Now, she wants everyone to come out and vote for her.

    September 28, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. Tech Engineer Who Votes

    Can tech personalities break into politics? Not if they don't vote.

    A more pertinent question might be: "If a prospective candidate for public office avoids civic duties, what kind of example would it set for voters and constituents?"

    September 28, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  23. I can see Canada from my house!

    Just because someone ran a tech-based company does not mean they are a technology geek. Can Meg or Carly tell us about any patents they personally produced?

    September 28, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  24. gt

    why not try some one beside lawyers.....

    September 28, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. Jimmy

    Who cares if she didn't vote? That has nothing to do with her ability to run something. Given the choice between Democrat and Republican.........what the hell!

    September 28, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
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