Former GOP congressman laying gubernatorial groundwork to avoid mistakes of 2016

tom-campbell-2009-horizontalFormer Republican Congressman Tom Campbell is laying the groundwork for an unspecified Republican candidate in the 2018 gubernatorial race, hoping to avoid what happened in this cycle’s U.S. Senate race where no Republican candidate advanced to the general election.

Campbell, the last Republican to represent Silicon Valley in Congress, doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes Republicans made in the 2016 primary. Republicans were unable to unite behind a candidate, which led to two Democrats being thrust into the general election, thanks to the relatively new primary system where the top two candidates advance regardless of party.

“I see the 2018 race for Governor headed toward a disaster, when it could be a major rebirth of the Republican party,” Campbell wrote to other Republicans just after the June primary. “The disaster would be if, like the U.S. Senate race just completed, 12 Republican candidates all run, none of them strongly supported, and the Democrats place the top two candidates who go on to November.”

In describing what he wanted in a candidate, Campbell pitched a platform built on five pillars: Fix roads and build water storage, delegate decisions on government employees’ compensation to a civil service commission that’s free of political influence from public employee unions, protect Prop 209 (which barred ethnic and gender preferences in the public university admissions process), protection of Prop 13 (which capped annual property tax increases), and increase school choice.

“The vast majority of California Republicans can unite behind a few very important principles, leaving the points that divide us to one side,” Campbell wrote.

“We need to find a candidate for Governor in 2018, and support her or him strongly and early, who shares the principles I’ve identified, who is not divisive,” Campbell added. In a follow up interview with CalWatchdog on Wednesday, Campbell did not offer specific candidates but said he was actively recruiting and he had not planned to run.

The comment about divisiveness is surely a nod to the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump. In August, Campbell announced he would leave the party in protest if the nomination was not vacated (which of course it wasn’t).

Campbell, a professor of law at Chapman University in Orange, served in Congress twice, from 1989 to 1993 and then from 1995 to 2001. In the interim, he served in the state Senate.

He also ran for Senate three times. He lost to Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein in the 2000 general election. And he lost in the Republican primaries in 1992 and 2010.

So far, the two major candidates for governor are Treasurer John Chiang and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, both Democrats. 

Tags assigned to this article:
Dianne FeinsteinTom Campbell2018

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