Billionaire Meg Whitman, who was the Republican nominee for California governor in 2010 and lost to Jerry Brown, is backing Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa for governor in 2018.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Whitman, the billionaire former eBay CEO who spent $144 million of her own money on her failed run in 2010, is co-hosting a fundraiser Thursday night for Villaraigosa in Silicon Valley.”
A source close to Whitman told the Chronicle, “Meg has endorsed Antonio because, although she is a Republican, she believes he’s the best candidate for the job. Meg believes that Antonio is stronger than (Lt. Gov.) Gavin (Newsom) on both the economy and education, which are both important issues.”
Whitman is endorsing Villaraigosa likely knowing full well that if he places second in the June 5 primary, he and Newsom — a fellow Democrat — will advance to the general election, with no Republican on the ballot.
That, in turn, analysts say, would put the Republican Party at greater risk of losing control of Congress, because fewer Republicans would turn out to vote, and Democrats would benefit in congressional races throughout the state.
The two Republicans vying for governor are Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) and businessman John Cox, who is currently fighting for second place with Villaraigosa.
One of the issues Whitman and Villaraigosa appear to agree on is charter schools, an issue that has led to a proxy war between Villaraigosa and teachers unions, which have come out in support of Democratic frontrunner Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
In 2016, Whitman emerged as one of the strongest voices against President Donald Trump during his successful bid for the nation’s highest office, contributing financially the “Never Trump” movement against him.
She reportedly compared Trump to the fascist dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
In an interview with John Oliver on his HBO show Last Week Tonight, Whitman said of Trump, “The only way to stop Trump is to make sure that people in the remaining primary states don’t vote for him. When you take a look at the facts about his record, they’re pretty remarkable. I don’t think Republican voters have grasped this yet.”