Professor of Government John J. Pitney was quoted yesterday in the Politico and Reuters on the subject of Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay becoming the next governor of California. Before I get into my thoughts on Ms. Whitman, allow me to quote for you what Pitney said in each publication.
In Politico, Pitney sums up Ms. Whitman's assets: her money. Pitney was quick to point out, however, that her main opponent is also flush with cash.
“The good news for Meg Whitman is that she’s a billionaire and can finance a lavish campaign. The bad news is that her main rival, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, is also a billionaire and can match her dollar for dollar,” said John J. Pitney Jr., a political science professor at California’s Claremont McKenna College.In Reuters, Pitney sums up her weakness: her lack of experience.
Whitman's business background could attract voters but as a novice politician she may be unprepared for the rough and tumble of politics, unlike Poizner and Campbell, said Jack Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and a former researcher at the Republican National Committee.
"She comes from business and claiming to have created jobs in this economy isn't bad," Pitney said.
"A big minus is she has never run for anything," Pitney added. "When you're a rookie running for governor mistakes can be very hurtful."
Early on, Whitman was a fan of Mitt Romney, the man who ought to be president, so I trust her political instincts. But it remains to be seen whether her admiration for Romney was due to his politics or her status as VP of Bain & Company's San Francisco office.
I also like the idea of tech Republicans leading us forward from the economic malaise that Schwarzenegger and his Democrat friends have brought upon us. To imagine a world where paying your unfortunately increasing taxes is as efficient as PayPal and where the entire state of California transfers over to Skype instead of costly other programs is to imagine a world where libertarian cost-cutting merges with techni-utopianism. (For what it's worth, I think such a world is more in line with the thinking of the young and brilliant Peter Thiel, who really ought to one day run for office.)
It's a good vision, except such a world didn't come about because of Meg Whitman. She did a poor job of running eBay as an entrepreneurial place, like the Google or Yahoo it could have become. It was just another tech company, focused grouped to death. Whitman is making a big bet though by running. The public, by and large, has a good view of eBay and Californians might recall a California pre-tech bubble to which they want to return. My prediction is that Whitman's political futures will be tied to the success of eBay. If it booms once more, she'll be formidable. If it falters, she'll falter.
For those who are interested, I'm probably going to end up supporting Poizner for governor and it isn't because Ilan may wind up working for him. It's because Poizner has been active in California politics for years. Whitman, by contrast, just recently switched from a decline-to-state to a Republican and she didn't vote while she lived in California for all these years.