Making what may be the earliest commitment by a prominent Silicon Valley executive to play a leading role in a Republican campaign for next year’s presidential election, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman has signed on to help raise money for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The Christie campaign listed Whitman as co-chair of Christie’s national finance team, along with Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot, and hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.
Whitman is a longtime Christie fan, and the admiration goes both ways. Christie backed Whitman’s failed bid to be California’s governor in 2010, crossing the country several times to stump for her and even taping a TV spot for her. Whitman spent about $140 million of her own money on that race, but lost to Jerry Brown.
Whitman backed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the 2012 election — again as national finance co-chair — and was briefly mentioned as an early contender for cabinet positions had Romney prevailed until she said she wasn’t available. But she raised eyebrows in 2011 when she hosted Christie at her Atherton, Calif., home for a fundraiser benefiting his New Jersey Republican State Committee at a time when he was being pressed to jump in and contest Romney for the GOP nomination.
California is a Blue State, so much so that Republicans hardly stand a chance in statewide races. And several prominent tech execs — including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Box CEO Aaron Levie — have already showed their colors by writing checks for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, according to Politico. (Clinton’s February interview with Re/code’s Kara Swisher certainly helped generate early buzz in the Valley before she was officially a candidate.)
It’s increasingly clear that Silicon Valley money is going to be a bigger factor in the 2016 White House race than ever before, on both sides of the partisan divide. Prepare yourselves for lots of visits by the candidates — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush visited San Francisco last week. Politico also noted that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison recently hosted a fundraiser for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Rubio also landed a check from Cisco Systems chairman and outgoing CEO John Chambers.
And what of Carly Fiorina, the former HP CEO who is running for president herself? She at least has the support of Ann Livermore, a former HP exec (and current HP director) who used to report to her.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.