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2/9/2009
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Former EBay Chief Whitman Eyes California Statehouse

Tech mogul has formed exploratory committee for possible gubernatorial run.

Former eBay president and CEO Meg Whitman has moved toward running for California governor next year.

Whitman announced Monday that she had formed an exploratory committee to seek nomination for the post. Former California Governor Pete Wilson will serve as campaign chairman.

"After careful consideration and with tremendous loyalty to our Golden State, I have formed an Exploratory Committee, the first step in the process of running for Governor in 2010," Whitman said in a statement. "California faces challenges unlike any other time in its history -- a weak and faltering economy, massive job losses, and an exploding state budget deficit. California is better than this, and I refuse to stand by and watch it fail. Now is the time for people across the state to join in a cause for change, excellence, and a new California."

Whitman plans to visit Silicon Valley, Orange County, and the California Republican Party Convention in Sacramento, and outline her vision for California during a series of public speeches.

Jeff Randle, president and CEO of Randle Communications, is Whitman's senior adviser. He will work with Henry Gomez, who advised Whitman during her 10-year tenure at eBay, to organize the campaign.

"Meg Whitman is a tremendous leader and team-builder," Randle said. "California today has serious problems, but Meg is committed to working to restore the state's greatness. With new leadership and a new direction, Meg will forge a new California, which will once again be the number one state in economic growth, job creation, and quality of life."

Whitman, 52, retired from eBay last year, after taking the company from startup status -- with 30 employees, $4.7 million in revenue, and 300,000 users -- to a global force with operations in 38 countries, more than 15,000 employees, almost $8 billion in revenue, and more than 300 million registered users. More than 12 million Californians use eBay.

Republican members of Congress Kevin McCarthy and Mary Bono Mack will also serve on the committee, along with state Sen. Tony Strickland and Assembly members Nathan Fletcher and Sharon Runner.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will not be able to run for re-election next year because of term limits. Rumors have swirled for nearly a year, indicating that Whitman would seek the nomination but the formation of an exploratory committee is the first tangible step she has taken to signal her intent.

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