×

I'm voting for Hillary Clinton—and I think most CEOs will, too

I am voting for Hillary Clinton this fall and I think most other CEOs will, too.

Since CEOs are innately conservative fiscally, this may be the first time in history that CEOs vote D over R.

And it's doubly significant when you consider that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is running against the first businessman in modern history to garner a major party nomination. You see, CEOs virtually all share the conceit that government would function better if business people were put in charge ...

But not this time.

After 12 years as a CEO, and being among other leaders of Fortune 250 companies, I have found that most CEOs are relentlessly pragmatic — not ideologically dogmatic. They will assess their voting options in November as they would a critical hiring decision. CEOs, when they are hiring, place enormous weight on relevant experience and expertise. But, even if a job candidate has all the expertise and experience in the world, if he or she fails to pass muster on the threshold tests of temperament, tolerance (inclusiveness) and teamwork, they will never get the job.

Applying these criteria to our choice this election, it is not a close call. Only one candidate passes these threshold tests.

"As to the foreign affairs side of things, I have not come across a single CEO with overseas operations who does not find Donald Trump's approach to international relations ignorant, dangerous and just generally embarrassing."

Secretary of State Clinton worked collaboratively with our allies; Senator Clinton worked collaboratively with her colleagues in the Congress. As if we needed another data point, Donald Trump vividly demonstrated in his convention speech that he thinks, speaks and acts only in the first person singular.

Outstanding CEOs build outstanding teams — teams that consist of much more than family members. Hillary Clinton had the most capable Senate staff I have ever seen and then moved to the State Department, where she restored confidence in a much bigger organization that had become dispirited and dysfunctional after several years of organizational indifference.

If you turn to the issues (and hopefully we will, at some point during this campaign) on the "big six" domestic issues of our time — immigration, environment/climate change, the social agenda, taxation, free trade and the economy (i.e. job creation) — CEOs usually align with Democrats on the first three and Republicans on the final three. But of course Candidate Trump is not a free trader, so four out of six say Democrat. As to the last of the six, and perhaps the most important — domestic job creation — judging the current Democratic administration's record against that of its Republican predecessor, I would give Clinton the nod on this one as well.

Hillary Clinton
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Hillary Clinton

As to the foreign affairs side of things, I have not come across a single CEO with overseas operations who does not find Donald Trump's approach to international relations ignorant, dangerous and just generally embarrassing.

But what decides my vote more than anything is experience. Objectively speaking, together with George H.W. Bush and John Quincy Adams, Hillary Clinton is one of the three most experienced presidential candidates in American history.

Experience is critical because CEOs appreciate that the presidency is the most difficult executive position on the planet, with the most at stake and the least room for error.

We are coming off three successive two-term presidents, none of whom had deep executive experience in large complex institutions at the time they assumed office. All three struggled to find their footing at the beginning (yes, even Bill Clinton, who had the most relevant experience of the three, had a rough first year). It is not a coincidence that the last president who hit the ground running on day one of taking office was George Herbert Walker Bush.

Given the perils of the world we live in and the urgent issues we face, we don't have the luxury of time to train a president. And we certainly don't want to elect a candidate who already thinks he knows everything he needs to know, when he so clearly does not.

That is why I am hoping, praying and voting for Hillary Clinton, former First Lady, former Senator from New York, and former Secretary of State, to become the 45th President of the United States.

Commentary by David Crane, who was CEO of NRG Energy from 2003 to 2015. He is currently a senior operating executive at private-equity firm Pegasus Capital Advisors, where he focuses on the firm's investments in clean energy. Follow him on Twitter @DCCleanEnergy.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.