With California currently facing a budget crisis, businesses fleeing the state and record unemployment, you would wonder why anyone would want the California governor’s job. But this is a job that former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has decided to take on.

Whitman joined the Internet company, when it had $4.7 million in revenue and 30 employees.

Ten years later eBay was generating more than $8 billion in revenue and had 15,000 employees.

Whitman has received accolades from Time magazine, Fortune and BusinessWeek for her business expertise in growing eBay.

Whitman comes from a background in corporate America and has no political experience. In fact, she avoided voting for 20 years, but this could be a positive or negative, depending on how you look it.

The Rev. Eric Lee, president/CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) of Greater Los Angeles and chairman/president of the California Christian Leadership Conference, said that voters may be in the mood for something different, after seeing that career politicians can’t solve the state’s problems. “There is something to be said for someone who is not part of the political in crowd,” Lee said, who is a political and human rights activist in the Los Angeles area.

According to Lee, Whitman’s strengths are that she comes from a business background and may have new ways of dealing with California’s economic problems. But Lee added that the downside is because she comes from corporate America, there is a concern that Whitman will not understand how to operate in the political atmosphere of Sacramento.

“Meg Whitman has operated in the bubble of corporate America,” Lee said, “I would suggest that it is a more controlled environment than running a state.”

Another issue Lee has with Whitman is her wealth. She is a billionaire, who has spent more than $140 million of her personal money on the campaign. Lee wonders if someone who comes from Whitman’s social class will make decisions that will hurt the middle and working classes, who are struggling to survive in a recession. (Whitman has said she plans to save money, by eliminating about 40,000 state jobs.)

According to an e-mail from campaign spokesperson Darrel Ng, Whitman’s main issue is the economy. “Meg’s top issue is jobs,” Ng said. “She believes that creating jobs is the state’s top priority and an issue that affects the African American community, as well as the rest of the state. Her other priorities are fixing our schools and cutting government spending.”

Lee feels that the crisis in public education is the greatest issue affecting the African American community. He said about 60 percent of Black and Brown students are dropping out of high school. Lee added that these dropouts are a direct pipeline to the Prison Industrial Complex.
“This is the greatest Civil Rights issue of our day,” Lee said. He also said the crisis in education also has a dire effect on the economy. “Seventy percent of ninth graders are not proficient in math and English,” Lee said. “What happens to the workforce?”

Without qualified workers, corporations will have little incentive to keep jobs in America. Lee also said that Whitman was invited to a debate organized by African American civic organizations such as the SCLC, the Urban League and the NAACP. Both Whitman and her opponent Jerry Brown declined the invitation.

“What they are saying is that they don’t care about the Black community,” Lee said.

Lee added that observing the campaign has given him great concern about the state of American politics. He says the political field has become all about money, not who is more qualified.

“People are buying the election,” Lee said. “It’s all about how much money (they raise) and who can run the best campaign.”