Meg Whitman, back in the political rumor mill

Rumors about former eBay CEO Meg Whitman’s political ambitions have been kicking around since she handed over the reigns at the online auction house last year. Now that she’s jettisoned her positions on several corporate boards, the speculation has begun again in earnest.

This time, the iconic Silicon Valley executive is believed to be eyeing the governorship of California, which term limits will force Arnold Schwarzenegger to vacate in 2010.

Effective Dec. 31, 2008, Whitman resigned from the boards of eBay, Procter &
Gamble and DreamWorks Animation, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Whitman recently served as a national co-chair of John McCain’s presidential campaign, and had been widely considered an insider for a position like Treasury secretary had he won.

Unnamed sources have emerged to suggest that Whitman had made up her mind about a run for governor, citing her decision to clear away her corporate obligations as a telling sign. Look for it to become official with the formation of an exploratory committee in four to six weeks.

If she runs, Whitman will face fellow Republicans Steve Poizner and Tom Campbell, both of whom have already formed their own exploratory committees.

As the wildly successful CEO who presided over eBay’s rise from an obscure Internet startup with an unproven business model to an e-commerce kingpin, billionaire Whitman would no doubt benefit from her corporate cache, despite eBay’s recent struggles.

She would also be cutting her political teeth on a pretty big stage. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the former CEO of a company like eBay, big as it is, would doubtless find the political arena brimming with new challenges.

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