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Camarillo Republican to Challenge Incumbent McClintock in Primary


Camarillo tax attorney Kevin Staker, a political neophyte, said Wednesday he intends to run for the Republican nomination for the Assembly against four-term incumbent Tom McClintock in this June's primary election.

Staker, 35, said he filed papers declaring that he will run against McClintock, of Thousand Oaks, in the 36th Assembly District, which covers southern Ventura County. Winning the GOP nomination is usually tantamount to being elected in the heavily Republican district.

Staker, who is making his first bid for public office, said he plans to make McClintock's "negative" political style his main campaign issue. He charged that McClintock's style has rendered him increasingly ineffective in Sacramento.

"I really feel that it is time for positive representation for the district," said Staker, who is also a bishop in the Mormon church. "Assemblyman McClintock just has so much negative baggage now that he's an ineffective representative."

Staker cited Assembly Republican leader Ross Johnson's recent ouster of McClintock as GOP whip, the fourth most powerful leadership position in the Republican caucus in Sacramento.

McClintock has had serious disagreements with Johnson over the caucus' direction, and recently announced that he is organizing an effort to dump Johnson as caucus leader. He said last week he is within one vote of ousting Johnson.

The McClintock-Johnson split became public last year when McClintock called for "some very serious housecleaning" of the GOP caucus after Karin Watson, a top Republican Assembly aide, admitted during a Federal Court hearing that she extorted $12,500 on behalf of her bosses. Watson is cooperating with an FBI investigation of corruption in the state Capitol

Staker said McClintock "presents his views in such an extreme manner that he turns people off . . . anytime he opens his mouth he's ignored up there."

"All one has to do is read his newsletters," said Staker. "They're just vindictive and vitriolic and full of negative things in discussing the issues."

But asked to cite an example of how McClintock's political style has damaged his ability to represent the district, Staker said, "Unfortunately, I can't think of anything right now."

Staker said his campaign will focus primarily on his complaints about McClintock's style, rather than major policy differences.

"It's mainly a matter of style and where I'm coming from," he said. "I'm a businessman in the community and dealing with reality.

"He's a political animal and all he knows is politics," said Staker. "That's going to be one of my themes, that all he knows is politics."

But Staker acknowledged he will have a difficult time unseating McClintock.

"This is totally an uphill fight all the way," he said. "But I think he's vulnerable because he hasn't been subjected to scrutiny. I intend to put a spotlight on him."

Staker, a graduate of Brigham Young University and the University of Utah Law School, is a partner in a four-member Camarillo law firm. He is married and has two children.

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