One of four gubernatorial candidates introduced to California Republicans recently is a registered sex offender who spent more than a decade in state prison, convicted of crimes including voluntary manslaughter and assault with intent to commit rape.
Glenn Champ, 48, addressed hundreds of GOP delegates and supporters Sunday at the site of the state party's semi-annual convention. Introduced by party chairman Jim Brulte and allotted 10 minutes, Champ spoke in between the main GOP candidates, former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari and state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino County.
Champ, a little-known political neophyte from the Fresno County community of Tollhouse, did not directly mention his criminal past during his speech but said, "In my life, I've been held accountable because of my stupidity. I do not want anyone else to be enslaved because of their lack of knowledge."
Champ's rap sheet is lengthy. Court records show that in 1992, he pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed firearm. In 1993, he was convicted of two counts of assault with intent to commit rape and as a result was placed on the state's sex-offender registry.
In March 1998, he accepted a plea deal on a charge of loitering to solicit a prostitute; later that year, he pleaded no contest to a voluntary manslaughter charge after hitting a man with his vehicle, for which he was sentenced to 12 years in state prison, according to court records.
In an interview Friday, Champ acknowledged his criminal record, which was reported by KMJ radio in Fresno.
Champ said the assault case "was just for picking up some underage prostitutes" and resulted in a 90-day jail sentence. He said he turned his life around after the incident.
"I found the Lord when I got arrested for picking up the prostitutes," Champ said. "I was like most people, ignorant in the darkness, in the very dark. I had no peace, had no love, had no joy. And now I do. Praise God for that…. I've grown considerably since I met Christ."
He called the voluntary manslaughter case a "tragic accident."
"There was a situation where the gentleman, he was a little bit drunk and was trying to get violent and I left the area as quick as I could and apparently he got in the way. I didn't see him or even know I hit him until about four hours later, till it came on the news," Champ said.
Champ said his life experience could help him deal with politicians in Sacramento. He calls them criminals, saying, for example, that they routinely infringe upon constitutionally protected gun rights.
"I know what the criminal mind thinks, and I know how it works and I know how to stop it, and that's something [other politicians] don't get," Champ said.
A spokesman for Brulte, who introduced the candidates after the close of official convention business Sunday, declined to say whether the chairman was aware of Champ's past. In a written statement, Brulte said five of the six GOP gubernatorial candidates who have qualified for the ballot participated in the party's convention, and four of them were available to address attendees Sunday morning.
Another candidate, Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount, also spoke.
"We're not in the business of vetting candidates, and we don't pick winners and losers," Brulte said. "Republican voters should get to decide who runs against Jerry Brown."
Times staff writer Diana Marcum in Fresno contributed to this report.