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eBay Meg Too Toxic for CA-Gov?

John McCain’s pick for Treasury Secretary and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman lost her two big-name GOP consultants before she even decides to run for governor of California.  eMeg was in charge of Willard Romney’s economic message and then half of John McCain’s economic brain trust (I know, right?) along with Carly Fiorina — until Carly left eMeg entirely in charge of McCain’s brain.

Political gurus Adam Mendelsohn and Steve Schmidt have withdrawn their participation in Meg Whitman’s political operation, about a month before she is scheduled to decide whether she’ll run for governor in 2010.

Mendelsohn confirmed Thursday that he and Schmidt were no longer working with Whitman, in his case because of a busy schedule planned in working with current Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and in Schmidt’s case a desire to spend more time with his family and on his business.

Schmidt worked as principal campaign adviser to John McCain’s unsuccessful presidential campaign this year.

eMeg’s political stock was high at the St Paul GOP convention: those geniuses thought she brought the right kind of political acumen to the California governor’s race.

"Oh, she’s going to run," said a long-time McCain ally and California Republican National Convention delegate. "She’s working people here," added a McCain fundraiser. Whitman, national co-chair of Sen. John McCain’s campaign, was talked about as a vice presidential pick and has wowed Republicans with her political savvy.

Although the GOP consultants claim calls of Arnold and family, I wonder if eMeg’s support for Proposition 8 has made her too toxic a property for the consultant class in California:

Whitman, as we’ve noted, is an oddity among Silicon Valley Republicans, who tend to worry more about lower taxes than hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage. In the Republican presidential primaries, she supported Mitt Romney, a Mormon with conservative social views. But it wasn’t until recently that Whitman started talking about her own support for Proposition 8, California’s recently passed ban on same-sex marriages.

Unless eMeg plans to finance her gubernatorial campaign from her own very deep pockets, finding money to run may be difficult in the Golden State, especially if she faces powerhouse fundraiser Dianne Feinstein in the general election:

As a practical matter, Whitman’s support of Proposition 8 may backfire in fundraising and in the general election. Several current and former eBay executives, including founder Pierre Omidyar, lent their name to a newspaper advertisement opposing Proposition 8. Will they support Whitman’s campaign now? Unlikely.

Her stance could also hurt her former employer’s business. Already, eBay sellers are organizing a boycott because of Whitman’s stance. And no company likes to be drawn into controversial causes. One might think that her handpicked successor, John Donahoe, might prevail on Whitman to moderate her stance for that reason alone.

California prefers its Republicans to be centrists — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, another Proposition 8 opponent, is the best example of this trend. Whitman’s top two contenders, former Representative Tom Campbell and Steve Poizner, the state’s insurance commissioner, also opposed the proposition.

California GOPs face the same wingnut minefield their national counterparts do to win the nomination: they must hew to no-tax-raising, social-issue-defining orthodoxy to win the nomination, then turn abruptly to appeal to a broadly moderate, even progressive, statewide constituency in the general election. Arnold never could have won the governor’s nomination in a GOP primary; his only route to Sacramento was through a trumped-up recall election.

Will eMeg’s Prop 8 strategy to win the GOP nomination kill her chances in a general election?

{h/t calitics

{video from squashram24

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