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Decision '94 / SPECIAL GUIDE TO CALIFORNIA'S ELECTIONS : U.S. Senate : THE REPUBLICAN: MIKE HUFFINGTON

October 30, 1994

MIKE HUFFINGTON, Republican

* Born: Sept. 3, 1947, Dallas

* Residence: Santa Barbara

* Current position: U.S. congressman

* Education: Bachelor's degrees in engineering and economics from Stanford University, master's degree in finance from Harvard University.

* Career highlights: Deputy assistant secretary of defense for negotiations policy in the Reagan Administration, 1986; vice chairman of Roy M. Huffington Inc., a Houston oil and gas company owned by his family, 1976-1990; co-founder of Simmons & Huffington, a Houston investment firm, 1974-1976.

* Family: Wife, Arianna, and two daughters.

Background

Mike Huffington was born in Dallas 47 years ago, son and namesake of Roy M. Huffington Sr., the legendary Texas wildcatter who struck it rich in oil and natural gas and later became one of the national Republican Party's major contributors.

When Huffington was born, his father was a geologist for Humble Oil. When Mike Huffington was 9, his father set out on his own to start an oil and gas prospecting company. Huffington and his younger sister grew up mostly in Bellaire, Tex., a middle-class Houston suburb of ranch-style homes, diner-style cafes and Art Deco movie theaters. Huffington was a teen-ager when his father's work started to pay off and, at 14, he was sent to the Culver Military Academy in Indiana.

Huffington rowed on the crew and excelled as a student military officer. After Culver, he attended his father's alma mater, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and in 1966 he attended Stanford, where he pursued degrees in engineering and economics.

Huffington showed his first interest in politics at Stanford, volunteering for Ronald Reagan's 1968 presidential campaign. That summer he also worked in the Washington office of Houston Rep. George Bush, a friend of Huffington's father. Later, he earned a master's degree in finance from Harvard Business School.

*

Huffington's first step into a professional career was at the First National Bank of Chicago, where he spent two years in the finance office with a friend from Harvard. In 1974, with his friend's connections, Huffington joined a start-up investment company that offered financial advice to companies working in the Houston oil fields.

Huffington left that company two years later, pocketing about $700,000 after a lawsuit against his two former partners.

For the next 14 years, Huffington helped direct the business his father had started--Roy M. Huffington Inc., or Huffco. The company had struck it rich while Mike Huffington was in graduate school by hitting a huge natural gas reserve in Indonesia. It took years, however, for the company to prepare the financing and infrastructure to move the gas from an Indonesia jungle to its Japanese buyers.

In 1986, Huffington married the Greek-born Arianna Stassinopoulos, a noted author and New York socialite. A short time later, Huffington began a one-year stint in Washington, where President Reagan appointed him to be deputy assistant secretary of defense.

By 1987, the couple had bought a $4.3-million mansion in the hills of Montecito near Santa Barbara. Arianna Huffington moved into the home with her mother and sister while Mike Huffington remained in Houston working at the family business. By the time Huffington moved to California in 1991, the couple had two daughters.

Huffco was sold in 1990 to Taiwan's Chinese Petroleum Co. for about $600 million, making Huffington's father one of America's richest men and earning the son an estimated $75-million fortune. Huffington said he remained in Houston for a year after the sale because of ongoing litigation.

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California political watchers first heard of Huffington when he was about to unseat an 18-year Republican incumbent, Rep. Robert J. Lagomarsino (R-Ventura). What made the feat remarkable was that Huffington, virtually unknown in the area, spent more than $5.2 million of his own money on the race--about double the previous record for the most ever spent on a House seat.

Since his election to the House two years ago, Huffington said, he has intentionally avoided the role of legislative activist. For one thing, he says, Republicans have little chance of success because Democrats control the Congress. For another, Huffington said he went to Washington to scale back the size of government, not to add more laws.

As a result, his tenure has been marked mostly by votes against prominent appropriations bills and other legislation. But he also demonstrated his independence from the Republican leadership by supporting the Family Leave Act and the policy allowing gays to serve in the military.

Huffington raised Republican eyebrows again when he announced he would run for the U.S. Senate barely nine months after he assumed his House office. The power of his wealth cleared the field of any major Republican challengers, leaving only former Orange County Rep. William E. Dannemeyer, who was easily defeated in the GOP primary.

Promises / Goals

If elected senator, Mike Huffington has vowed to:

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