Yesterday's New York Times Magazine cover story, "The Gavinator?!?!"--about San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and the field of colorful candidates vying to succeed California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger--was breezily entertaining. So breezy that it skipped a few important points.
And having written a Fortune cover story, "Can Meg Whitman Save California?" about one of those gubernatorial rivals, I can't resist weighing in...
First, on the money. It's strange that yesterday's New York Times story didn't mention news that came out last week: Whitman, the former CEO of eBay (EBAY), has raised more than $6.5 million in five months since declaring her candidacy last February. That's more than Newsom ($2.8 million) and way more than Steve Poizner and Tom Campbell, her competitors for the Republican nomination. Some 85% of her money has come from California--and she has big-name supporters there, including Cisco (CSCO) CEO John Chambers, Yahoo (YHOO) chief Carol Bartz, and Marc Andreessen, the uber-entreprenuer who happens to be the subject of a cover profile in the new issue of Fortune, released today.
Mitt Romney and John McCain have endorsed Whitman too. And though I have no desire to promote Whitman, I can't resist mentioning that she is the anti-Sarah Palin. She's not a quitter--which will be key in a race that is already intense and still more than a year away from the finish line. I've known Whitman for a decade, and I've learned that she's focused. She's grounded. She's pragmatic. You might say that spending $50 million of your own money to compete for governor of America's sickest state--as she suggested to me that she's willing to do--is hardly pragmatic. (Indeed, business celebrities who have tried to buy their way to the California statehouse have blown up in the past. Remeber Al Checchi, Bill Simon, Michael Huffington...?) But after character, money counts here. Whitman has already contributed $4 million of her own money.
I also have to weigh in on the "rent-a-horse issue," as we at Fortune have come to call it. The New York Times Magazine story yesterday mentioned--repeating a charge we've heard before--that our cover last March showed Whitman "holding the reins of Brandy, a regal-looking horse, although an editor at Fortune later admitted that Brandy was a rental horse and did not belong to Whitman."
The facts, folks: Brandy belongs to a Whitman supporter in Half Moon Bay, California, near where the photo was taken. Whitman has horses of her own--nine horses, in fact--which she keeps near her family vacation home in Colorado. She's a lifelong outdoors-woman and accomplished rider who transplanted West--which is why we proposed this cover shot. While we could have transported one of Whitman's horses from Colorado, why put a horse through that?
It turned out, on that Saturday last February when we did the ocean-side shoot, Brandy was a very frisky animal. Whitman tamed her. Here's one more picture that didn't make it into the magazine...
Tech companies are rethinking their identities. IBM may buy Sun Microsystems. Cisco (CSCO) is moving into the server market, and also mightily into the consumer space. The latest move by Cisco CEO John Chambers--whose family reportedly owns eight Flip cameras--is a buyout of Pure Digital Technologies, which sells those ultra-simple videocameras. (I love mine.)
Powerful people are busy rethinking their identities too. My last two stories in Fortune are about ex-CEOs MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 20, 2009 3:55 PM ET
Here's the new cover of Fortune.
Yes, former eBay (EBAY) CEO Meg Whitman is vying for her next big gig--governor of California--Ronald Reagan-style. She's got a Western look and a simple message: creating jobs, cutting government spending, and improving education. "The three-bucket theory," Whitman calls it, contending that corporate employees and voters as well need clear, memorable messaging from leaders of any kind.
The horse on the cover, Brandy, isn't Whitman's, but MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 18, 2009 3:15 PM ET
Check out my cover story, out today!
Folks here at Fortune say it's a rip-roaring read, fun and full of access. I had a blast doing it. I spent three intense days with Whitman, whom I've known for a decade, in Silicon Valley and Orange County. I was with her for the first campaign speeches of her life. She's a neophyte, learning fast.
I learned about California politics (rough and tumble!) and MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 16, 2009 6:09 AM ET
I was in California this past week and I'm happy to report that the Golden State did not fall into the Pacific Ocean.
It seemed it might, as inches of rain drenched Silicon Valley and the state government fought off insolvency. What a disaster California is right now, even after the legislature yesterday approved a plan to close a $42 billion budget deficit and end the "fiscal emergency" that the action-hero MOREPatricia Sellers - Feb 20, 2009 1:51 PM ET
Tonight, all eyes are on Obama and McCain, in their final Presidential debate. If McCain continues to lose in the polls, it's all the more likely that one of his key advisors -- and one of Fortune's former No. 1 Most Powerful Women -- will set her sights on another race: for California Governor. Former eBay (EBAY) CEO Meg Whitman, who is co-chair of the McCain Presidential campaign, hasn't decided MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 15, 2008 1:24 PM ET
Keeping it brief today. Jessica and I are heading to the U.S. Open. Ilana Kloss, the CEO of World TeamTennis, invited us. We're hoping Billie Jean King, who co-founded and helps run WTT, is with us too. Btw, check out BJK's Guest Post -- and a piece I wrote about her odd connections to some of Fortune's Most Powerful Women.
Speaking of MPWomen, did you see the Republican convention last night? Sarah MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 4, 2008 12:35 PM ET
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