High-tech elite sit out politics, wait for Al Gore

first_img“I’m waiting for Gore, I’m waiting for Gore,” Donnie Fowler, a Democratic consultant in Palo Alto, said he hears from party donors in Hollywood even as they give some money to other candidates. “There’s fashion in politics,” said Fowler, who was Gore’s national field director in the 2000 campaign. “And the most fashionable candidate is the one who’s not running.” Hopes for a Gore candidacy are not limited to California’s high-tech and film set. Across the country, some Gore fundraisers from his 2000 race are staying out of the 2008 campaign or are prepared to switch from a current hopeful to Gore should he decide to run. The no-clear-favorite perspective in the technology industry was borne out by the current candidates’ fundraising. Although Clinton came in first, Obama was a close second. Joe Cotchett, a lawyer with Silicon Valley ties who is raising money for Democrat John Edwards, said tech leaders are uncertain. PALO ALTO – Even with 18 presidential candidates to choose from, it is Al Gore who draws the allegiance of many high-tech elite. Since losing the 2000 election, Gore has become an environmental crusader and technology insider. He is on Apple’s board of directors, advises Google and has his own startup. Gore, who insists he is not running again for the White House in 2008, has close ties to some of the biggest names in the technology industry. He is one reason that enthusiasm and fundraising in Silicon Valley have been muted for any of the current candidates even though some, including Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, have come courting. “The candidate of Silicon Valley is Al Gore,” he said. “But he’s not running.” Silicon Valley tends to be libertarian. Its inhabitants traditionally have shied away from politics and from political giving. But candidates seek endorsements from high-tech entrepreneurs to show they understand the vanguard of U.S. business. Bill Clinton collected just $150,000 in the 1992 election cycle from Silicon Valley, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Still, his candidacy got a boost when high-tech leaders, many of them Republican, endorsed him over President George H.W. Bush. Gore hardly did much better in Silicon Valley in 2000 when he took in about $650,000 to George W. Bush’s $1.3 million. Bill Bradley, Gore’s rival for the Democratic nomination, also beat him with $1 million. Since then, the region has grown more wealthy and more liberal, becoming a frequent stop along the California money trail. In 2004, Democratic nominee John Kerry raised $4.7 million to George W. Bush’s $1.9 million. Gore has close ties to three of Silicon Valley’s biggest names: the venture capitalist John Doerr, who was instrumental in Clinton’s 1992 endorsement; Apple’s chief executive, Steve Jobs; and Google’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt. Jobs has not donated to any candidates this cycle. His wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, has given $9,600 to Democrats – $4,600 each to Obama and Edwards and $400 to Clinton. Doerr and his wife, Ann, have given $2,100 each to Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. On the Republican side, eBay’s chief executive, Meg Whitman, has contributed $2,300 to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Romney and Whitman worked together in the 1980s at Bain & Co., a management consulting firm in Boston. Today, she is helping him raise money. Cisco’s chief executive, John Chambers. gave $2,300 to Arizona Sen. John McCain. Some activists say the possibility of a Gore run has become a fig leaf for those who do not want to choose between Clinton and Obama. “There are a handful of high-profile Clinton-Gore people who are sitting this out and are using Gore as an excuse,” said Wade Randlett, who is raising money for Obama. “It’s an excuse that’s really solving a problem for them.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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