U.S. Rep. Howard (Buck) McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), 53, is seeking second term in congress. McKeon, who co-owns a chain of western wear stores, is married and has six children.
Democratic challenger James Gilmartin, 60, is an attorney who is running for a second time against McKeon. Gilmartin is married and has six children.
McKeon, a member of one of Santa Clarita Valley's leading families, got off to a quick start in Congress by getting himself elected president of the House's 51-member GOP freshman class. The position, he has insisted, has given him a rare opportunity to promote his plans to reform the systems of seniority and secrecy that rule Congress.
A low-key, affable McKeon enjoys good working ties with Democrats even while remaining a rock-solid Republican with votes against the budget deficit reduction plan, the crime bill and most other Clinton administration initiatives, including ones on family leave and to drop barriers to gays in the military.
McKeon opposed restricting private ownership of military-style assault weapons (the crime bill banned many of these guns), saying that as a Mormon he recalled that Mormons were denied the right to bear arms in Missouri, then chased from that state in the mid-19th century by gun-toting locals.
But it was McKeon's vote to support the North American Free Trade Agreement that caused a flap back home, because it appeared to be a reversal of a campaign pledge.
Gilmartin has accused McKeon, who has run as an experienced and trustworthy businessman, of being part of a reckless management team at the local Valencia National Bank that made sizeable insider loans to members of the bank's own board that later became delinquent.
Much of Gilmartin's critique is lifted from allegations made in a lawsuit filed by a former president of the bank. That lawsuit did not name McKeon as a defendant. McKeon, who has denied any wrongdoing in the matter, borrowed more than $1 million from the bank. His staff has claimed that he was never delinquent with his repayments.
Registration in this district is 48% Republican, 38% Democratic.
Also on the ballot is Libertarian Devin Cutler of Canoga Park.