SACRAMENTO — State Sen. H. L. Richardson of Glendora, outspoken advocate of gun ownership and perhaps the Legislature's most conservative member, changed his mind and jumped into the Republican primary election campaign for lieutenant governor Tuesday.
Richardson, a 20-year veteran of the Senate, probably will face recording executive Mike Curb, a former GOP lieutenant governor who has indicated that he wants his old job back, as his toughest competition in the June primary. Another GOP candidate is Orange County Supervisor Bruce Nestande, who has announced his candidacy.
The winner of the primary will face Democratic Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy--who has no known serious opposition for renomination--in the November general election.
Richardson told reporters he believes he would be the toughest Republican opponent for McCarthy. The conservative lawmaker said he and McCarthy "are opposites on any number of issues" such as, he said, McCarthy's support of California Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird and for homosexual rights legislation and McCarthy's former opposition to the death penalty. (McCarthy changed his position on capital punishment last year and now supports it in certain circumstances.)
Gun Control Issue
Richardson called McCarthy "an outspoken advocate of gun control," which McCarthy later said was a "serious mischaracterization of my record." For one thing, McCarthy said, he remained "neutral" on an unsuccessful anti-handgun ballot initiative in 1982.
Richardson, 58, is active in the campaign to defeat Bird for another term, heads Gun Owners of California and its efforts to elect conservative pro-firearms candidates to the Legislature and runs a private direct-mail campaign firm.
Only a few weeks ago, Richardson said he had all but decided against running for lieutenant governor because of demands on his time from his political activities.
But he told a press conference that the more he thought about running for lieutenant governor, the more he believed that "this is something I should do. I feel it in my bones that I should get in."
Richardson at one time was a strong supporter of Curb, but the two had a falling out over a campaign debt that Curb owed him. Richardson sought to dismiss suggestions that he was entering the campaign because of a grudge against Curb, saying that the debt had been paid "and I respect him for that."
GOP's Campaign Theme
An underlying theme of the Republican campaigns will be that Republican Gov. George Deukmejian needs a lieutenant governor of the same party to back him up.
Richardson once was openly critical of Deukmejian, saying the governor lacked substance. But he since has apologized and Tuesday he said of the chief executive: "I think he's one of the finest governors we've ever had in the state of California."
Richardson's only other statewide campaign was a race for the U.S. Senate in 1974 when he was defeated by Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston.
Another possible GOP primary candidate is Assemblyman Don A. Sebastiani of Sonoma, who announced last year that he would run for lieutenant governor but now is indicating that he may run for controller instead.