Whitman’s Spotty Voting Spells Confusion for California

By Jamilah King Jun 09, 2010

California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is rich. Really rich. And even though California voters haven’t exactly been kind to candidates who use their millions (or, in Whitman’s case, billions) to run for office, the former ebay CEO hasn’t been afraid to reach into her vast fortune in this year’s governor’s race. She used $71 million of her own money to handily defeat moderate Republican Steve Poizner in yesterday’s primary, and her upcoming showdown with former Governor Jerry Brown may come down to two issues: job creation and immigration reform.

Whitman claims to be the whiz with the former. She’s said she’s the best person to decrease California’s $42 million budget deficit because she’s got plenty of experience creating corporate jobs.

"This is something that I’ve done before," she told the Los Angeles Times last year. "I think maybe it is about time for a governor who has created jobs, who’s managed a budget, who’s led and inspired large organizations, who listens well, and who can drive an agenda."

Fair enough, but her voting record is a bit trickier. That’s largely due to the fact that she doesn’t really have one.

The Sacramento Bee reported last September that Whitman never voted in nearly two decades. Her biggest political act on record was registering as a Republican while leaving eBay in 2008, a nod that she was planning to follow her former boss Mitt Romney into politics. The sparse voting history left Whitman wide open to criticism from Democrats, but she spun it in a predictably Tea Party-esque fashion: as a political outsider and self-made millionaire, she’s not beholden to union cash or political machinery.

But she’s obviously beholden to reactionary Republican narratives. Whitman ardently supported Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s passage of SB 1070 and used opposition as fodder to build her conservative base during her primary campaign. In one ad, she vouches to send in the National Guard to secure the border and comes out strongly against driver’s licenses for undocumented workers and sanctuary cities.

We’ll see how her anti-immigrant rhetoric holds up against the state’s growing numbers of registered Latino voters. One in six voters this November is expected to be Latino, and on average Latino voters tend to be younger and more educated than their white counterparts.