Garry South is right to be worried about Meg Whitman

I smiled when reading Garry South’s editorial on Meg Whitman last week.  Garry’s a prominent Democratic political consultant who’s won two statewide elections and today is working to make Gavin Newsom governor in 2010.

If Garry’s paying attention to Meg Whitman this early, what does that tell you?  

It tells me Garry knows exactly how formidable a candidate Meg is becoming and wants no part of her challenge to his party.  As a campaign professional, he’s watched Meg build a strong campaign team, an unrivalled finance operation and deliver a powerful message during many media interviews since she announced her campaign.  

He knows that Meg is creating momentum for her candidacy even at this early stage of the race….and he’s worried.

As someone who helped win four California gubernatorial elections, beating Dianne Feinstein, Kathleen Brown, Gray Davis and Phil Angelides, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what it takes for Republicans to win.  Visions of failed Republican candidacies may give Democrats comfort, but the reality is that Meg’s business experience and fresh, outsider approach to Sacramento are right for the times.  

California’s economy and state finances have never been worse.  More than two million Californians are unemployed, we’ve lost 727,700 jobs in less than two years, 176,100 jobs vanished in February and March alone, and unemployment in parts of the state has surpassed 20 percent.  

Yet, incredibly, the bureaucracy believes it’s immune to economic reality and Democrats consistently fight to protect it.  Government spending continues to rise.  Our taxes are among the highest in the country.  By almost any measure, the quality of life for most Californians is declining.

Meg will run against the failed ideas of California’s Democrat majority and, most likely, a very liberal nominee that has no experience creating jobs or growing an economy.  She’ll run against a government that has driven California to the brink of financial disaster.  And she’ll win because she’s got the strength of character, personal integrity, and skills to lead our state.

Meg has a clear vision for what she would do as governor, and unlike her opponents, she’s been upfront about her plans.  Meg wants to help create two million private sector jobs to get California back to full employment.  She wants to cut waste and streamline government to the tune of at least $15 billion.  And she wants to improve our failing education system by championing charter schools and rewarding our best teachers for their critical contributions to California’s future.

And while Meg’s vision for California is on the mark, her ability to communicate beyond traditional political audiences makes her even more formidable.  She has the ability to harness technology to talk directly with voters, particularly the 18-29 year olds that can play an important role in deciding California’s next governor.  Similarly, Meg has tremendous appeal to women, a constituency that has decided the outcome of many California statewide elections.  And she will also be able to reach out and connect with California’s Latino community, many who are small business owners and philosophically support the GOP message of low taxes and individual opportunity.

We’re not going to hide from the fact that Meg is one of the world’s most successful, self-made, businesswomen.  And we’re certainly not going to run from her success at eBay.  While some attempt to rewrite Meg’s eBay legacy, there’s only one reality.  She took eBay from 30 employees and $4 million in revenues to 15,000 employees and nearly $8 billion in revenue.  She created over a million small businesses in the process.  No other candidate, and very few business leaders, can talk about that kind of remarkable achievement.
Meg’s business success doesn’t entitle her to anything in politics, however her authenticity, honesty, ideas and determination do.  She will earn the votes to win by offering common sense solutions to the challenges we face.  And then she’ll do something unheard of by the politicians in Sacramento – she’ll deliver the results.

If the first few months are any indication, this campaign will be a tough fight.  But it’s a fight worth having.  And while some political consultants think they’ve got the book on Meg Whitman, we intend to write a new chapter.

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