Former Virgin Galactic Exec George Whitesides Runs for Congress in California
George Whitesides, former Virgin Galactic CEO, is running for Congress in California. Whitesides announced his candidacy for the House of Representatives seat for California’s 27th district on Wednesday.
Whitesides was the first CEO of Richard Branson’s space tourism company Virgin Galactic. During his 10 years in the role, Virgin Galactic created more than 700 jobs in the Antelope Valley region of California, which is part of the district.
He was Chief of Staff for NASA for the Obama administration and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the agency’s highest honor, and also co-founded wildfire activism group Megafire Action.
“This is not the time for timid leadership. We need leaders who believe in doing big things – like creating the jobs and companies of the future from the AV to Santa Clarita. Leaders who believe that by working together, we can solve the wildfire crisis, build affordable housing, and protect Social Security and Medicare,” Whitesides said in a statement. “I’m running for Congress because I believe that our community has built an incredible legacy, and our best days are ahead of us. We can do big things, and we need leaders who know how to get them done.”
Whitesides is running as a Democrat. The district he is running in includes most of northern Los Angeles County, including the cities of Santa Clarita, Palmdale, and Lancaster. It is a competitive district which voted for Biden in the 2020 presidential election, and is currently represented by Republican Rep. Mike Garcia.
Whitesides left Virgin Galactic in March 2021, after shifting from the CEO role to chief space officer in 2020. Former Disney exec Michael Colglazier succeeded Whitesides as CEO. Whitesides was CEO when Virgin Galactic went public in October 2019 through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger, leading to a wave of space SPACs.