Four years ago, Mike Curb and H. L. (Bill) Richardson stood shoulder-to-shoulder against a common adversary, then-gubernatorial candidate Gov. George Deukmejian. But with Deukmejian now the incumbent governor, that political triangle has shifted, and Curb and Richardson, like competing suitors, are trying to outdo each other courting Deukmejian's favor.
But the campaign for lieutenant governor, which early on held promise as a down-and-dirty contest, has remained remarkably civil, with each candidate advertising his own credentials while stressing his Deukmejian connections.
Curb, 41, has tried to live down his image as an impulsive and controversial politician as he bids to retake the office he lost in 1982 when he unsuccessfully ran against Deukmejian for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. A millionaire record producer, he opened his campaign with a political rarity--an apology for not doing a better job during his first term--and since has kept a low profile.
Richardson, 58, who supported Curb until the two had a falling out over a $36,000 bill Curb owed Richardson, is a staunch conservative best known for his stewardship of a huge gun owners' lobby that funds conservative candidates. But because Curb has refused to debate him, the 20-year Senate veteran has been stymied in his attempts to raise his name identification.
The winner of the Curb-Richardson primary will face incumbent Democrat Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy, who is running unopposed for his party's nomination. McCarthy won his first term in 1982 by defeating Republican nominee Carol Hallet.