SACRAMENTO — A coalition of Asian-American groups and individuals assailed the nomination of Rep. Daniel E. Lungren for state treasurer Thursday, saying the Long Beach Republican is an "extremist" who opposes civil rights and is insensitive to minorities.
The attack from the group, which calls itself Californians for Responsible Government, is the first organized opposition to surface against Lungren's nomination and could give Democrats in the Legislature ammunition to fight his confirmation.
"His voting record reflects an attitude that is anti-minority, anti-civil rights, anti-women, anti-poor and anti-elderly," said Donald K. Tamaki, a San Francisco attorney and spokesman for the newly formed organization. "He is a radical, an extremist on many positions."
Lungren, 41, was nominated last month by Gov. George Deukmejian to succeed Treasurer Jesse M. Unruh, who died in August. The Legislature is scheduled to begin hearings on Lungren in January and must act on the nomination by March 1.
Lungren, contacted in his Washington office, countered that he is "in the mainstream" of California politics. The coalition has attacked him, he said, merely because he does not side with its members on every issue.
"In the '50s, that kind of thinking was known as McCarthyism," Lungren said.
The coalition lists as members more than 125 individuals and organizations, including Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Woo, Los Angeles school board Member Warren Furitani, San Francisco Supervisor Tom Hsieh, the Asian-Pacific Bar Assn. of California and the Japanese-American Democratic Club of Los Angeles.
In particular, the coalition cited Lungren's opposition to legislation that would pay $1.2 billion in cash reparations to 60,000 Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II.
Lungren, who served on a federal blue-ribbon commission to examine the internment issue, has consistently maintained that the payment of money cannot correct the terrible wrong done to those who were confined. He favors giving the victims a formal apology and spending $50 million on an education program about the internment.
Lungren lashed back at his critics saying, "I just find it extraordinary that I would get involved in this whole process because of my concern about intolerance . . . (and) then have intolerance visited on me."
But the coalition, in addition to attacking Lungren's stand on the reparations issue, criticized his votes on about 40 bills, including his opposition to the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, tough sanctions against South Africa and a variety of health and welfare programs.
The issues raised by the coalition could help lay a foundation for uniting Democratic-oriented groups against Lungren by highlighting issues that are of concern to other minorities, organized labor, women, senior citizens and the poor.
"The Lungren issue goes far beyond the issue of redress (for the World War II internment)," said George Kodoma, president of the Japanese-American Democratic Club of Los Angeles. "We are opposed to his confirmation in the strongest possible terms. He is a reactionary parading under the mantle of fiscal conservatism."