Relatives, ex-lawmakers vie for congressional seats
February 24, 2008
SACRAMENTO -Political campaigns are increasingly becoming all-in-the-family affairs in California.Ten relatives of current or former lawmakers are running for state legislative or congressional seats this year, including the husband, brother, mother, son, wife and ex-wife of sitting lawmakers.And 19 former lawmakers are trying to revive political careers with campaigns for the Legislature or Congress.In most cases, the situations are byproducts of California’s term-limits law, said Allan Hoffenblum, publisher of the “California Target Book,” which analyzes legislative and congressional races.The limits, adopted by voters in 1990, allow state lawmakers to serve up to two four-year terms in the Senate and three two-year terms in the Assembly. There are no term limits for members of Congress.Term limits will open 34 legislative seats this year, and three other Assembly members are running for the Senate instead of seeking re-election, clearing the way for wholesale changes in both houses.Having a family member run for one of those soon-to-be vacant seats enables a termed-out lawmaker to remain part of the “political scene” even if they’re not holding office themselves, Hoffenblum said.”Bill and Hillary are not the exception,” he said. “It’s more common than people realize.”The primary election will decide most races because the way most districts are drawn gives only one party a real chance of winning. Here are some of the hottest campaigns on the June 3 primary ballot:DOOLITTLE SEAT Former Rep. Doug Ose, R-Sacramento, and former state Sen. Rico Oller, R-San Andreas, are among the Republican candidates running for the congressional seat being given up by Rep. John Doolittle, R-Rocklin, who abandoned his re-election campaign while under investigation in a congressional lobbying scandal. State Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, said he also is considering getting into the race.HUNTER’S SUCCESSOR Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, made a failed run for president this year rather than seek a 15th term in the House of Representatives. His son, Duncan D. Hunter, is one of four Republicans running to succeed him.LANTOS’ REPLACEMENT Former state Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, is running to replace the late Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, who died in January. Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig is considering challenging Speier for the Democratic nomination. A special election will be held April 8 to pick someone to serve the rest of this year. The seat also will be up for grabs in the June primary.NIELSEN RERUN Former state Senate Republican leader Jim Nielsen is trying to make a comeback, nearly 18 years after he lost a bid for a fourth term in the Senate. He is one of five Republicans running for the Assembly seat being given up by fellow Republican Doug LaMalfa, R-Willows, who will be termed out in November.PAPAN’S BACK Gina Papan, the mayor of Millbrae and daughter of former Assemblyman Lou Papan, is one of three Democrats running for the Assembly seat now held by fellow Democrat Gene Mullin, D-South San Francisco, who also is termed out. Gina Papan lost to Mullin in 2002 in a bid to succeed her late father.MORE MAZE Rebecca Maze is one of three Republicans trying to succeed her husband, termed-out Assemblyman Bill Maze, R-Visalia.ANOTHER KNIGHT Stephen Knight, a Lancaster councilman and a son of former state Sen. Pete Knight, D-Palmdale, is one of four Republicans running for the seat held by Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, who is termed out in November.TWO LOWENTHALS? Bonnie Lowenthal, a Long Beach councilwoman and the former wife of Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, is one of six Democrats seeking the seat now held by another lawmaker facing term limits, Assemblywoman Betty Karnette, D-Long Beach. Alan Lowenthal, who is running for re-election, has endorsed his ex-wife.NEXT NESTANDE Brian Nestande, a son of former Assemblyman Bruce Nestande, R-Orange, is among five Republicans running for the seat held by Assemblyman John Benoit, R-Riverside, who will be termed out of the Assembly this year and is running for the Senate.BATTLE OF SAN FRANCISCO Termed-out Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, former Assemblyman Joe Nation, D-San Rafael, and Joe Veronese, the grandson of former San Francisco Mayor Joe Alioto, are among Democratic candidates trying to topple Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, who is seeking a second term.CANCIAMILLA-DESAULNIER Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Martinez, and former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg, are competing for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Tom Torlakson, D-Martinez, who will be termed out of the Senate and is running for DeSaulnier’s Assembly seat.PERATA’S SUCCESSOR Term limits are forcing out Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland. Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, and former Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, D-Alameda, are hoping to succeed him.FROMMER-LIU Sen. Jack Scott, D-Altadena, is another term-limits casualty. Two former Assembly members, Dario Frommer, D-Los Angeles, and Carol Liu, D-Pasadena, are running for his seat.LEVINE-PAVLEY Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Sherman Oaks, and former Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, want the Senate seat now held by Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, who is termed out.DYMALLY, HORTON, WASHINGTON andamp; WRIGHT No, it’s not the name of a Los Angeles law firm. Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, D-Compton, is trying to return to the Senate 34 years after he left it to become lieutenant governor. Former Assemblymen Jerome Horton, D-Inglewood, Carl Washington, D-Los Angeles, and Rod Wright, D-Los Angeles, want the seat for themselves. The incumbent, Democrat Ed Vincent, D-Inglewood, is termed out.HUFF-MOUNTJOY Assemblyman Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, is running for the Senate seat now held by termed-out Sen. Bob Margett, R-Arcadia. Former Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy, R-Monrovia, who also is the son of a former legislator, also is seeking Margett’s seat.BENOIT-BOGH Sen. Jim Battin, R-Palm Desert, is termed out. Benoit and former Assemblyman Russ Bogh, R-Beaumont, want to succeed him.Also running for Assembly seats are former Sen. Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata; William Berryhill, the brother of Assemblyman Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto; and Fran Florez, the mother of Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter. They are so far unopposed in the June primary, according to the secretary of state’s office.Former Assemblyman Tony Strickland, the husband of Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, R-Thousand Oaks, is a Senate candidate. At this point, he is running unopposed for the Republican nomination to replace McClintock. Former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, is his likely Democratic opponent.Another former assemblyman, Dean Andal, R-Stockton, is running unopposed so far for the Republican nomination to face Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton.