Forget Hillary Clinton and her emails, or Ted Cruz and Canadian birther conspiracies. The 2016 race for president can wait. We need to start talking 2018. That’s when Californians will return to the polls to select a new governor, and Fly has learned Democratic multi-multi-multi-millionaire Steve Westly has made up his mind to run. During a private meeting Saturday in Atherton, a few dozen tech CEOs, politicos and influence peddlers, as well as members of Clinton and President Obama’s 2008 campaign teams, gathered with Westly to discuss strategy about his run for governor. While no formal announcement is expected until September, Westly confirmed to the group that he plans to challenge current Lt. Governor and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom—and most likely former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa—for the seat of terming-out Gov. Jerry Brown. (And, yes, terming out is a bit relative since Brown is only three months into his current four-year term.) Westly is no stranger to politics, having already run for governor, serving as state controller and leading state Democratic Party efforts for upwards of 30 years. He’s also made a crazy amount of money as a Silicon Valley venture capitalist—he was one of the first investors in electric car manufacturer Tesla. Despite all the cash he could personally throw into his campaign, Westly’s strategy will be modeled less after Meg Whitman’s failed bid to buy her way past Brown, and more like that of recently elected San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. San Jose’s race boiled down to a close three-person battle that ended with two brands of Democrat in the runoff. Liccardo managed to woo many of the Republican and moderate voters once he faced off with Dave Cortese, who had a progressive base that didn’t turn out. In the governor’s race, Newsom and Villaraigosa would be counted on to split the liberal base, allowing Westly to make the runoff and then appeal to voters of both parties.
Correction: A previous version of this story included erroneous information about the 2006 governor's race. San Jose Inside regrets the error.