EBay founder won’t en­dorse Whitman

Pierre Omid­yar says she would do a ‘great job’ but faults her on Prop. 8, other is­sues.

Los Angeles Times - - Latextra - Seema Me­hta and Michael Mishak

The EBay founder who hired Meg Whitman as his com­pany’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, giv­ing her a plat­form on which to run for gover­nor, said Tues­day that he would not en­dorse her be­cause of Whitman’s op­po­si­tion to same-sex mar­riage and her al­liance with for­mer Gov. Pete Wil­son.

Pierre Omid­yar praised Whitman’s lead­er­ship skills and said she would do a “great job” if elected, but said he would find it “dif­fi­cult” to vote for her if he still lived in Cal­i­for­nia.

“I have not en­dorsed her be­cause we have some dif­fer­ences on some of the po­lit­i­cal is­sues,” Omid­yar, who is now based in Hawaii, told Bloomberg TV in an in­ter­view that will air Wed­nes­day on “In­Busi­ness with Mar­garet Bren­nan.”

“I was dis­ap­pointed in her not-cor­rect de­ci­sion, in my view, to sup­port Propo­si­tion 8 in Cal­i­for­nia. I was dis­ap­pointed in her align­ment with for­mer Gov. Pete Wil­son on im­mi­gra­tion is­sues, who I think took some very ex­treme views years ago about deny­ing ben­e­fits to il­le­gal im­mi­grants. And so be­cause of those types of is­sues, I think we are a lit­tle bit apart, and I can’t quite sup­port her be­cause of that.”

Wil­son, who is a co-chair-

man of Whitman’s cam­paign, was a vo­cal sup­porter of a 1994 bal­lot mea­sure that would have stripped tax­payer-funded ben­e­fits from il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

Whitman was not liv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia in 1994 but has said she would have op­posed that mea­sure.

She said she sup­ported 2008’s Propo­si­tion 8, which banned same-sex mar­riage in Cal­i­for­nia.

As gover­nor, she said, she would go to court to back the mea­sure — a step both Gov. Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger and Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, her Demo­cratic ri­val in the gover­nor’s race, have de­clined to take.

Whitman, who was rais­ing money Tues­day with for­mer U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice in the Bay Area, is­sued a gra­cious state­ment about Omid­yar’s re­marks.

“Pierre is a close friend and I greatly en­joyed work­ing with him at EBay for 10 years. While we dis­agree on some is­sues, I ap­pre­ci­ate his ac­knowl­edge­ment that I would do a great job as gover­nor,” she said.

“That means a lot to me. Af­ter spend­ing many years work­ing to­gether grow­ing a com­pany, he knows bet­ter than any­one the lead­er­ship I can bring to Sacra­mento.”

The GOP can­di­date, who is mak­ing her first run for elected of­fice, has staked her cam­paign on her ex­pe­ri­ence at EBay, which she led as it grew from a small Sil­i­con Val­ley start-up into a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar suc­cess story.

The can­di­date, who be­came a bil­lion­aire dur­ing her time at EBay, has put $119 mil­lion of her wealth into her cam­paign, mak­ing her the largest self-fund­ing can­di­date in U.S. his­tory.

Whitman has fea­tured for­mer EBay em­ploy­ees in her ads and pep­pers cam­paign speeches with ref­er­ences to her time at the on­line auc­tion pow­er­house.

Omid­yar has avoided weigh­ing in on Whitman’s can­di­dacy un­til now.

The bil­lion­aire phi­lan­thropist has a lengthy his­tory of do­nat­ing to Demo­cratic politi­cians, but he has sup­ported a hand­ful of Repub­li­cans as well. At­tempts to reach him Tues­day were un­suc­cess­ful.

But he is not alone among EBay in­sid­ers in de­clin­ing to sup­port Whitman.

Steve Westly, a Demo­crat who sought the gov­er­nor­ship in 2006, has avoided dis­cussing Whitman’s can­di­dacy pub­licly but is host­ing a pri­vate fundraiser on Thurs­day for her Demo­cratic ri­val, Jerry Brown.

Omid­yar, who wrote the com­puter code for what be­came EBay when he was 28, lav­ished praise on Whitman’s decade-long ten­ure at EBay. “She is a fan­tas­tic ex­ec­u­tive. She did a great job at EBay,” he said.

“Her real skill is us­ing data to in­form strate­gic de­ci­sions, and bring­ing teams to­gether, putting the right peo­ple in the right jobs at the right time.”

He also pledged to “ab­so­lutely” work with Whitman if she is elected.

“I think she would do a great job,” he said. “And I would work, of course, to change her mind on some of these other is­sues.”

Whitman kicked off a week of high-pro­file fundrais­ers with the evening re­cep­tion with Rice. On Wed­nes­day, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will cam­paign with the GOP nom­i­nee, and on Fri­day, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jin­dal will head­line two events.

Dur­ing Tues­day night’s fundraiser with Rice in Burlingame, Whitman tried to rally her sup­port­ers for the fi­nal six weeks of the gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign.

“Over the next 42 days we have a chance to make his­tory,” Whitman told the crowd.

“Rarely has Cal­i­for­nia had the chance to put a real, proven job-cre­ator in the gover­nor’s of­fice. And of course, never be­fore has a woman led our state.”

She also boasted of the en­thu­si­asm that has Repub­li­cans op­ti­mistic about gain­ing seats in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Se­nate. “They are car­ry­ing pitch­forks and torches and say­ing, ‘Which way to the cas­tle?’ ” Whitman said of her fel­low Repub­li­cans.

Rice and Whitman sat to­gether af­ter the can­di­date’s re­marks, hold­ing an on­stage con­ver­sa­tion.

“Cal­i­for­nia once stood for what was best about this coun­try: op­por­tu­nity, dreams, cre­ativ­ity, in­no­va­tion,” Rice said. “And it’s go­ing to stand for that again. And when it does, the coun­try will be on a bet­ter course and so will the world.”

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