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The return of “Queen Meg” Whitman?

Meg Whitman on Forbes cover 6-10-2013The new issue of Forbes magazine features Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman on the cover, but the headline harkens back to a less successful moment in her career.

“Meg Goes to War,” the headline proclaims. “Can the queen of Silicon Valley save its original startup?”

Whitman’s people should put a permanent kibosh on using the word “queen” anywhere near her name. It’s a cringe-worthy reminder of the “Queen Meg” guerrilla campaign tactic that the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United used against her during her 2010 gubernatorial run – a costumed performer impersonating Whitman as someone who thought herself above, and couldn’t be bothered by, the needs of the hoi polloi.

The Forbes story portrays Whitman as a CEO who wants to learn from her company’s mistakes in order to build a leaner, more competitive outfit. “She’s decisive without being abrasive, persuasive without being slick. She’s a team builder who knows that turnarounds call for repairing hundreds of small failings rather than betting everything on a miracle cure that might be a mirage.”

If that’s how she had run her $178.5 million campaign – with $144 million of that coming from her own pocket – we might be calling her Gov. Whitman right now.

Posted on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
Under: 2010 governor's race, Meg Whitman | No Comments »

Chris Christie calls Jerry Brown ‘an old retread’

Media including the Los Angeles Times are reporting on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s tirade against California Gov. Jerry Brown this morning as he addressed California’s delegation to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.:

“California made the bad choice by going with an old retread,” Christie told California’s delegation to the Republican National Convention here, a crowd that lapped up his message. “Let me tell you this – I cannot believe you people elected Jerry Brown over Meg Whitman. … Jerry Brown. Jerry Brown? I mean, he won the New Jersey presidential primary over Jimmy Carter when I was 14 years old.”

Christie said the 74-year-old, three-term governor told him that he’s not trying to raise taxes, that he is allowing voters to decide by putting a tax proposal on the ballot.

“Man, that’s leadership, isn’t it?” Christie said.

Seems like my story in today’s editions about California being a popular GOP punching bag was timely, no?

A few observations: Christie governs a state that doesn’t require two-thirds majorities of both houses of the Legislature in order to raise taxes. California’s GDP grew by 2 percent last year, while New Jersey’s shrank by -0.5 percent. And Meg Whitman now presides over Hewlett-Packard, which last week reported its largest-ever quarterly loss – $8.9 billion – and is stumbling dangerously, according to the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2012
Under: Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, Political conventions, Republican Party, Republican politics | 9 Comments »

Romney rolls out California leadership team

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, completing a campaigning and fundraising swing through California today, announced his leadership team for the Golden State.

Former governors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian will serve as honorary statewide chairman, while the statewide chairs will be 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee and current HP CEO Meg Whitman; House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield; Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista; Rep. Mary Bono-Mack, R-Palm Springs; Rep Buck McKeon, R-Santa Clarita; congressional candidate and state Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark; and 2010 GOP U.S. Senate nominee Carly Fiorina of Los Altos Hills. McCarthy’s and Fiorina’s endorsements were announced yesterday.

“It is an honor to have so much support from such distinguished leaders in California,” Romney said in a news release. “This is further proof that my pro-growth message is resonating with voters and that Californians want a conservative businessman to replace President Obama. I look forward to their counsel in my efforts to bring back jobs and restore fiscal sanity in Washington.”

Wilson said this election “is too important for our party to nominate a candidate without the real-world economic experience and proven track record that Mitt Romney has demonstrated throughout this campaign and throughout his life.”

“The members of his California Leadership Team have already been hard at work spreading his pro-growth message and working to ensure that President Obama is defeated in November,” Wilson added. “I am proud to be a part of this team and encourage my fellow Republicans to unite behind the one candidate we know can beat President Obama and create an economic climate that will bring jobs back to California.”

Romney did a campaign event yesterday morning in San Diego before holding fundraising events there and in Redwood City. Today, he’s doing fundraisers in Stockton, Irvine and Los Angeles, and will appear on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

Five California polls conducted in the past seven weeks have shown Romney establishing a strong lead over his competitors Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

For additional Romney leadership team members, read on after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, Mitt Romney, Republican Party, Republican politics | 6 Comments »

Trying to get a grip on Meg Whitman’s bankroll

$144.2 million. That’s what 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman spent out of her own pocket on her failed campaign; the campaign’s total spending was $178.5 million when all was said and done, according to campaign finance reports filed yesterday.

Chew on it for a second. $144.2 million. Gaaaaah! Cannot… contextualize. Maybe it’s because I live on a reporter’s salary – which was never great, and actually has gotten smaller in recent years – but I’m fascinated by the concept of being able to lay out that kind of money for anything. I’m dwelling on it. It’s probably not healthy.

I did a quick turn around the Interwebs to see what $144.2 million means in other contexts. That amount is also:

  • the entire government spending of the Federated States of Micronesia for 2005.
  • the adjusted sale price of Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” (sold in 2006 for $135 million to billionaire businessman Ronald Lauder)
  • Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I - Meg could've bought this.

  • the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2009 lobbying costs, the highest yearly lobbying expense ever reported
  • the amount appropriated by Congress in the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 to buy airport screening equipment for checked and carry-on baggage
  • the gross box-office take of Eddie Murphy’s “Dr. Doolittle
  • No, I’m still not feeling it. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be able to imagine $144.2 million in, and then out of, my pocket. Maybe it’s easier to visualize $34.93, which is what Whitman paid out of pocket for each vote she eventually got in November’s general election. $34.93 could buy you a pair of boots, or a computer daypack, or a knife-compass-and-spark-striker survival tool combo, or a yoga mat, or a pair of horse bookends.

    Aaaahhhh, that’s it – sweet, sweet context. A pair of horse bookends each for 4,127,391 voters.

    That’s about the same number of people as the combined populations of New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii, by the way.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
    Under: 2010 governor's race, campaign finance, Meg Whitman | 7 Comments »

    Maybe she should have bought them polo shirts

    Former Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman reported yesterday that she had put another $2.6 million into her campaign on Election Day, Nov. 2, bringing her total personal investment to $144,175,806.11.

    The latest, not-yet-finalized ballot tally (updated last night) shows she got 3,930,138 votes. So, Whitman spent about $36.68 out of her own pocket, not counting other contributions to her campaign, for each general-election vote she ultimately received.

    FYI, if you Google $36.68, you find it’s the price for:

  • a book on wine-cellar design;
  • a pair of Lacoste shoes;
  • a Ralph Lauren polo shirt; or
  • a place in the history books as the woman who spent more out-of-pocket on her own political campaign than anyone else in American history, yet still lost even while her party did exceptionally well all across the rest of the nation.
  • Well, the last one’s not exactly on Google, but you get the picture.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
    Under: 2010 governor's race, campaign finance, Meg Whitman | 7 Comments »

    Brown and Boxer get out the vote in Oakland

    Several hundred Bay Area Democrats chose to forego the start of the fifth game of the World Series this evening in favor of packing into a section of Oakland’s Jack London Square for a final get-out-the-vote rally with most of the Democratic slate of statewide candidates.

    Cynthia Rapak, 62, of San Francisco, wore a Giants cap as a sign of her torn allegiances; she said she wanted Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown “to see that I’ll make the ultimate sacrifice.”

    “The Giants might win tonight, but civic duty comes first – I always vote,” said the retired Oakland Unified School District teacher, noting she believes the campaign’s endgame bodes well for Brown. “Meg went 11 places, and Jerry is 72 and he went to 12. He talked about civic dialogue and she talked about managing; she doesn’t have a clue.”

    She and the rest of the crowd heard from Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for attorney general; Dave Jones, the Democratic nominee for insurance commissioner; John Chiang, the incumbent state controller; and Debra Bowen, the incumbent secretary of state before the top of the ticket began to take the stage: incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. By then it was the bottom of the fifth inning, but the cheering, sign-waving crowd no longer seemed to mind.

    “You’re the key to sending me back to fight for the middle class, to fight for jobs … to fight against the special interests,” Boxer said, exhorting the crowd to get everyone they know to the polls tomorrow.

    Then, backdropped by Port of Oakland cargo cranes and a Bay sunset, Brown took the podium and thanked the Democratic slate for “making this a real team victory. We’ll win tomorrow, we’ll win for you.”

    He noted the crisply uniformed Oakland Military Institute students lining the back of the stage, and said the Democrats’ goal is to make sure all California students have the resources and opportunities they need to achieve solid educations.

    “Victory brings even more challenges – in fact, the campaign is a piece of cake (compared) to fixing the budget,” he said. “I didn’t make this mess, but I sure want to fix it.”

    Just as Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman has claimed in her ads, California was working well when she arrived her 30 years ago, he said – and he was governor at the time. “And you know what? It’s going to start working again for everybody.”

    In a final jab at his opponent, he directed supporters seeking details of his platform to his campaign website. “Whitman’s plan is mostly pictures, but I have more respect for you,” he said.

    And then, by partway through the top of the sixth inning, it was over.

    Posted on Monday, November 1st, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Barbara Boxer, Dave Jones, Debra Bowen, Jerry Brown, John Chiang, Kamala Harris, Meg Whitman, U.S. Senate, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Meg Whitman rallies her troops in Burbank

    Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman made what she said was her 63rd campaign visit to Los Angeles County on Sunday with a get-out-the-vote rally at the Burbank Marriott. Several hundred local supporters packed into the hotel’s conference center for a glimpse of the candidate, who bounded onto the stage after a live band and several other GOP ticket members had warmed up the crowd.

    Meg Whitman in Burbank 10-31-2010 -- photo by Josh Richman“So, just a couple of days out until Nov. 2, and you know what? We’re going to win this!” she said with unusual intensity, adding internal polls and some public polls show the race for the governor’s office in a dead heat.

    “I like to think of this as two more days before a lot of really good things start happening,” Whitman said, vowing to pursue job creation and – in a nod to the Burbank area’s major industry – a focus on not losing a single entertainment job.

    She said she’s “a proven job creator” as opposed to “my opponent, who has been a part of the war on jobs in Sacramento for 40 years.”

    Whitman said former Gov. Gray Davis, who earlier was chief of staff to Jerry Brown while he was governor, recently said Brown will probably try to raise taxes to balance the budget – something she again vowed never to do. And, she said, there are rumors circulating that Brown would pick Davis to head his transition team; this brought a chorus of boos from the audience.

    Whitman said she wants to turn around K-12 education. “It is not OK that so many of our kids are in failing schools” with high dropout rates, she said, adding that her goal is to restore California to its place at the top of the nation’s school systems.

    Brown “has no prayer of ever fixing the school system” because he’s supported by California Teachers Association bosses, she said, promising to take those union bosses on and put more money into classrooms to support good teachers.

    “We have a chance to make history here, don’t we?” she said, a chance to “start the process of real change to take back this state for our children and our grandchildren.”

    And, she added, a chance to elect California’s first woman governor.

    “Who has the power in this election? You do. The people of the state of California are going to decide this,” Whitman said, calling Tuesday’s vote “a battle for the soul of California.”

    “Our problems are tough, aren’t they? But so am I.”

    Whitman was accompanied to the Burbank rally by Mike Villines, the Republican nominee for insurance commissioner; Mimi Walters, the Republican nominee for state treasurer; and Tony Strickland, the Republican nominee for state controller. Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, R-Thousand Oaks, served as emcee.

    From Burbank, Whitman was headed to the Santa Barbara area for a “Halloween-themed” campaign event at the home of Tom Deardorff, president of Deardorff Family Farms. On Monday, she’ll be in Menlo Park, Woodland Hills, Orange County and San Diego.

    Queen Meg in Burbank 10-31-2010 -- photo by Josh RichmanShe may be campaigning right up until the polls close on Tuesday, but for “Queen Meg” – the mocking, matronly monarch created by the California Nurses Association to stalk the candidate – today was the swan song.

    A CNA contingent led by the tiara-topped royal made a brief appearance outside the Burbank Marriott, where Whitman supporters were lining up for a rally with the candidate. Waving union signs, they chanted, “Hey Meg Whitman, get out of our town, so much money and you’re still 10 points down” as the bogus candidate yelled about being beset by the riff-raff and so on.

    Another person in a skeleton cavorted around Queen Meg – a skeleton from her closet, as it were; Queen Meg demanded its deportation.

    CNA has mounted the Queen Meg campaign to underscore its contention that Whitman’s policies would disproportionately harm California’s women and children – particularly her plan to eliminate the state’s capital gains tax, a $5 billion hit to the state’s revenue that the union says would come out of education and health-care funding.

    Posted on Sunday, October 31st, 2010
    Under: 2010 governor's race, Meg Whitman, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Whitman would save millions from her tax cut

    Continuing a meme that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown started during the debate last week, his supporters released a memo today estimating that Republican nominee Meg Whitman would see personal savings of between $8.2 million and $41.2 million over a four-year gubernatorial term if she keeps her promise to eliminate the state’s capital gains tax.

    Brown had asked Whitman – the billionaire former eBay CEO – during their Oct. 12 debate at Dominican University of California in San Rafael how much her tax plan would benefit her own finances; she didn’t answer, and hasn’t released an estimate since. Today’s memo was prepared and released by California Tax Reform Association Executive Director Lenny Goldberg.

    Whitman says eliminating the tax will stimulate investment, leading to job creation. Democrats say it would blow an even bigger hole in the already-shredded state budget while mostly benefiting the very rich, with no guarantee of an economic benefit.

    “Meg Whitman has millions to gain, but we have everything else to lose,” California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski told reporters on a conference call.

    He said eliminating the capital gains tax would reduce state revenues by $4.5 billion per year, with each dollar lost bringing “a decrease in the quality of life for Californians:” failing schools, reduced college admissions, shortages of police and firefighters, crumbling infrastructure, struggling seniors and disabled, and reduced or no child care, all without creating jobs.

    Pulaski and Goldberg repeated their calls for Whitman to release her tax records so estimates such as theirs wouldn’t be necessary.

    State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, agreed the memo underscores Democrats’ contention that Whitman offers “a one-sided solution to our budget problem – it is to enrich the rich and cut from children and the poor.”

    California saw faster economic growth than the rest of the nation from 2000 through 2007 even with the capital gains tax in place, said University of California, Berkeley Economics Professor Michael Reich, while other states such as Texas have outperformed California in recovering from this recession because they weren’t as hard hit by foreclosures.

    Whitman’s campaign issued a statement saying leading economists are on her side.

    “Having closely studied the issue, Meg Whitman’s proposal to eliminate the capital gains tax in California will spur investment and create jobs. As a whole, Meg’s economic policies of streamlining regulation and implementing targeted tax cuts are crucial in getting our economy moving again and getting Californians back to work,” Hoover Institute Senior Fellow John Taylor – an economic advisor to governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pete Wilson, as well as to presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush – said in the campaign’s statement.

    But Reich said California investors have diversified national and international portfolios, and so their reinvestment wouldn’t benefit the Golden State’s economy all that much. He also said millionaires haven’t been leaving California in any measurable way due to taxes, and so it’s unlikely any would return if the tax was eliminated.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
    Under: 2010 governor's race, economy, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman | 8 Comments »

    John Dutra endorses Whitman; Burton scoffs

    Former Assemblyman John Dutra of Fremont is heading up a Democratic and independent voters’ coalition in support of Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman, her campaign announced this morning.

    John DutraDutra, 75, represented the 20th Assembly District from 1998 through 2004 as a Democrat; he since has re-registered without any party affiliation.

    “Meg Whitman is the only proven job creator in this race. While representing the eastern part of the Silicon Valley, I watched Meg take eBay from a start-up with 30 employees to a Fortune 500 company of 15,000. Only she possesses the leadership and management skills to stand up to the status quo in Sacramento and turn our state around,” Dutra said in Whitman’s news release. “As a small businessman, I know she will be the best governor for all Californians, regardless of party registration, who believe our state can again offer a friendly environment in which to do business and a wonderful place for families and communities to thrive.”

    Whitman said she’s grateful to have Dutra’s endorsement and is “counting on his leadership to continue our successful outreach to Democratic and decline-to-state voters in the closing days. On the campaign trail, I meet Democrats and independent voters daily who support my vision for creating jobs, making government work for all of us and fixing our schools. Given the Democrats’ registration edge and the growing number of decline-to-state voters in California, I fully recognize that we need the support of these voters to declare victory on November 2.”

    California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton laughed when he heard the news.

    “Good for him,” Burton said. “John’s a nice guy, but if that’s the best she can do, her campaign is in more trouble than I think it is.”

    “As I recall he ran third in a Democratic primary,” Burton added, referring to Dutra’s unsuccessful bid for the 10th State Senate District in 2006; he finished behind Ellen Corbett, who went on to win the seat, and former Assemblyman Johan Klehs. “The only people that know John either served with him or are in his district, and in his district he ran third … when he had the most money, so I have no idea what John’s doing or thinking now, but it’s a free country.”

    The only other Bay Area leader of Whitman’s Democratic and independent voters coalition is former BART Director Erlene DeMarcus, 62, of Pleasanton; she’s a registered Democrat.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
    Under: 2010 governor's race, Meg Whitman | 1 Comment »

    New ads from Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman

    Read ‘em and weep…

    Whitman campaign spokeswoman Andrea Jones Rivera replied that “(c)omparing Meg’s experience as one of the world’s most successful business leaders to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career as an actor is a false equivalency. The only candidate who has supported Arnold’s plan to raise taxes is Jerry Brown when he supported the ballot measure in 2009 that would have raised Californians’ taxes by $16 billion. Now, Jerry’s plan is to do exactly what Arnold did and ask the voters to approve a massive tax increase. Meg Whitman is the only candidate who is offering Californians a real solution to the problems they face and is the only candidate who has promised not to raise taxes.”

    This ad should be fun to keep in mind as Whitman and Brown join Schwarzenegger one week from today at the Women’s Conference 2010 in Long Beach for a conversation – moderated by NBC’s Matt Lauer – about California’s future.

    And, Whitman’s new ad:

    Brown’s campaign replied that law enforcement unions, whose defined-benefit pensions Whitman defends, have spent more than $2.1 million on Whitman’s behalf; that as of Sept. 30, less than 5 percent of Brown’s campaign contributions had come from public employee unions; that Whitman has been on the warpath against teachers’ unions for years; and that Brown’s age and experience mean he’ll not pander to special interests.

    UPDATE @ 11:45 A.M.: Whitman’s campaign has launched yet another ad today…

    Posted on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
    Under: 2010 governor's race, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman | 4 Comments »