Chris Kelly, Facebook's chief privacy officer, has made official long-rumored plans to run for California's attorney general. He's just the latest Silicon Valley figure to enter politics.

Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO and noted gay-marriage opponent, is vying to be the Republican candidate for governor in California's 2010 election. She might well face one of her former lieutenants, Steve Westly, who left eBay to run for state controller, a post he won in 2002; he previously ran as a Democratic candidate for governor in 2006, but lost in the primary.

Or she might contend with Gavin Newsom, the tech-friendly mayor of San Francisco, who has courted the chiefs of Google, Twitter, and Facebook in launching his run. (Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin ferried guests to Newsom's wedding last year in their private jet.)

It's a turnabout for Northern California, which has long been noted for funding campaigns, not launching them. Will the nerd candidates play in California's conservative Central Valley, or glitzy Hollywood? Kelly has one advantage: He knows all about building a social network.