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Two Veterans Running Hard to Be the Understudy for State's Top Job

October 15, 2006|Paul Pringle | Times Staff Writer

Tom McClintock tells an old joke that California's lieutenant governor pretty much has the day free after determining that the governor is still breathing.

But that doesn't mean that McClintock wouldn't love the job.

The Republican state senator from Thousand Oaks is running for lieutenant governor against John Garamendi, the Democratic state insurance commissioner.

The contest gives voters a clear choice between two men with similarly long careers in Sacramento but sharply different priorities.

Garamendi, 61, a Sacramento-area rancher, served in the Assembly and state Senate from 1974 to 1990.

A graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard Business School, he was first elected insurance commissioner in 1990, and again four years ago.

In 1982 and 1994, Garamendi failed in Democratic primary bids for governor. He also lost a 1986 campaign for controller.

McClintock, 50, served 14 years in the Assembly, and was elected to the Senate in 2000. This is his fourth try for statewide office; he has run twice for controller, and finished third in the 2003 gubernatorial recall election.

The lieutenant governor serves as president of the state Senate, and sits on the boards of the University of California and California State University.

He or she also assumes the duties of the chief executive when the governor is out of state or incapacitated.

More than anything, ambitious politicians prize the lieutenant governorship as a potential springboard. Ten of California's 45 lieutenant governors have become governor.

This year, the office is being vacated by the termed-out Cruz Bustamante, who is running for insurance commissioner.

McClintock and Garamendi said they would use the No. 2 post as a bully pulpit.

Garamendi is a champion of consumer causes, particularly reduced homeowner and auto insurance rates. He also has supported tax credits for alternative energy, more school funding, workers' compensation reform and expanded research programs at UC campuses.

The Democrat favors abortion rights, tougher gun controls and aggressive measures against global warming.

McClintock is known as a fiscal watchdog who believes that state spending is out of control. He has voted against most state budgets in his 20 years as a lawmaker, and called early on for rolling back increases in auto registration fees.

The former legislative aide and newspaper columnist, who was first elected to the Assembly at age 26, also wrote bills that introduced lethal injection as California's mode of capital punishment and gave relatives of murder victims the right to witness the killer's execution.

McClintock stands opposite Garamendi on abortion, gun controls and global warming.

Unlike Garamendi, he also opposes President Bush's proposals on illegal immigration, including a guest worker program as well as gradual citizenship for many who entered the country unlawfully.



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John Garamendi

Party: Democratic

Occupation: State insurance commissioner

Age: 61; born in Camp Blanding, Fla.

Residence: Walnut Grove (Sacramento County)

Personal: Married; six children.

Education: Bachelor's degree in business, UC Berkeley; master's in business administration, Harvard University.

Career highlights: Assembly, 1974 to 1976; state Senate, 1976 to 1990; insurance commissioner of California, 1991 to 1995 and 2003 to present; deputy secretary, U.S. Interior Department, 1995 to 1998.

Platform: Turn the lieutenant governor's office into a watchdog. Work to fully fund schools but demand audits to ensure that money is spent in classrooms. Work to protect home care services for senior citizens. Advocate universal healthcare. Press to make California a world leader in fighting global warming.


Tom McClintock

Party: Republican

Occupation: State senator

Age: 50, born in White Plains, N.Y.

Residence: Thousand Oaks and Elk Grove (Sacramento County)

Personal: Married; two children.

Education: Bachelor's degree in political science, UCLA.

Career highlights: Assembly, 1982 to 1992 and 1996 to 2000; director, Center for the California Taxpayer, 1992 to 1994; director, economic regulatory affairs, Claremont Institute's Golden State Center for Policy Studies, 1995 to 1996; state Senate, 2000 to present.

Platform: Work to limit wasteful spending in government. Increase financial scrutiny of University of California and Cal State University systems. Advocate trimming K-12 bureaucracies to direct more money to classrooms. Oppose efforts to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

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