Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire and outspoken Donald Trump supporter, is considering a 2018 bid for California governor, according to three Republicans familiar with his thinking.
Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, has been discussing a prospective bid with a small circle of advisers, including Rob Morrow, who has emerged as his political consigliere.
Morrow has worked at Clarium Capital, the San Francisco-based investment management firm and hedge fund that Thiel started.
Those who have been in touch with the 49-year-old entrepreneur are skeptical that he’ll enter the race. He is a deeply private figure, and California is unfriendly territory for a Republican – particularly a pro-Trump one. The president-elect won just over 30 percent of the vote there.
But they add that Thiel has conspicuously yet to rule out a bid and that those around him continue to discuss it.
Adding fuel to the speculation: Thiel raised eyebrows this week when he granted a rare interview to the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd. In the interview, he outlined his political worldview and explained his support for Trump.(At one point, Thiel said, perhaps jokingly, that he’d be “fine” with California seceding. “I think it would be good for California, good for the rest of the country. It would help Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign,” he added.)
Neither Thiel nor a representative responded requests for comment.
Thiel, who delivered a primetime speech at last summer’s Republican National Convention, isn’t entirely new to the political scene. According to public filings, he has contributed over $8.5 million to federal candidates and committees since 2000. He speaks frequently with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the most powerful Republican in California.