Facebook vet runs as outsider for AG

Published: Friday, Apr. 12, 2013 - 11:38 am

Originally published in The Bee on 4/8/10

He takes credit for helping build a social-networking company from 2.5 million to 400 million users.

He argues voters this year will like his outsider profile as he seeks his party's nomination.

He has already put millions of his own money into the race and says he can afford to self-finance a general election campaign.

But Chris Kelly, who has left his job at Facebook to run for state attorney general, insists there are plenty of differences between him and GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman -- another high-tech exec with plenty of money and little political experience.

"Yes, I am a technology executive, but I'm a Democrat and I vote, " Kelly tells audiences in a reference to Whitman's sparse voting history.

Kelly, in a Wednesday interview with The Bee's Capitol Bureau, said he doesn't think voters will hold it against either of them that they are wealthy enough to spend their own money on their campaigns.

"Voters aren't going to turn against Meg because she's spending her own money on this race, " he said. "They're going to turn against her because she has retrograde views on civil rights and the environment."

Kelly said he sees gay marriage as the "leading civil rights issue of our era" and would not defend Proposition 8, which Whitman supports, in federal court.

He would defend Assembly Bill 32, the global warming legislation now criticized as a job-killer by Whitman and other GOP candidates.

He also is collecting signatures on an online petition urging Republican attorneys general to drop a lawsuit seeking to overturn the recently approved federal health care law.

Whitman last week responded "yes" to a question about whether she would force California's attorney general to file such a lawsuit. She later conceded to reporters that she would not have that authority as governor.

Kelly said he plans to deliver thousands of signatures to Whitman later this week.

"We quickly informed her, and a number of news outlets informed her, she doesn't have the power to do that, " Kelly said. "I think an attorney general has a role in at least keeping us out of a frivolous lawsuit."

Whitman spokesman Tucker Bounds responded that, "Meg Whitman is focused on her conversation directly with California voters about why she is the most credible and qualified candidate to improve California's economy.

"Unfortunately this other guy looks more like he's trying to earn some media attention than have a serious conversation about what's important, " he said.

Call Bee Political Editor Amy Chance, (916) 326-5535.

Read more articles by Amy Chance

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