Meg Whitman, governor of California? Maybe

Speculation about the former eBay chief executive running for California governor is growing, with the latest hint being that she has resigned from four corporate boards.

Caption: Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman speaks to delegates at Republican convention last year. Declan McCullagh/CNET

Meg Whitman has been talked about as long ago as March 2008 as a candidate for governor of California. Now there's more evidence the former eBay CEO will actually run.

The latest news that's fueling speculation is that Whitman, 52, resigned from the boards of eBay, Procter & Gamble, and Dreamworks SKG. Her spokesman said Monday that the resignation was for personal reasons, and carefully did not confirm--or deny--any gubernatorial ambitions.

Whitman had become an adviser to Republican Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, and enthusiastically endorsed him during the party's convention in St. Paul, Minn., last year. Whitman's message at the time: "Higher taxes encourage wasteful spending, demonstrate government's inability to choose among competing priorities, and destroy your prosperity."

That positions the billionaire executive as one of the better-known, albeit politically untested, Republican candidates who could succeed outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010. He's scheduled to be retired by term limits.

Possible primary rivals include State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, another Silicon Valley exec who already holds a statewide office. He founded SnapTrack, a cell phone locating company, and sold it to Qualcomm for $1 billion in January 2000, and also worked in the Bush administration's National Security Council. Another GOP rival could be Tom Campbell, a former U.S. congressman and dean of the business school at University of California, Berkeley.

Democrats that could be contenders in the general election include Attorney General Jerry Brown, who was already governor 30 years ago, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. So is current U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, assuming she's not entirely satisfied by her new job as head of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.

 

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