Board of Equalization
Districts 2 - 40
Democrats: Cruz Bustamante of Fresno, Tony
Miller of Sacramento, Larry Reed of Mira Loma. Republicans: Noel Irwin Hentschel
of Los Angeles, Tim Leslie of Sacramento, Ingrid Lundberg of Sacramento, Richard
Mountjoy of Monrovia. American Independent: George McCoy of Anza. Green: Sara
Amir of West Hollywood. Libertarian: Thomas Tryon of Angels Camp. Peace
and Freedom: Jaime Gomez of Los Angeles, Regina Lark of Canoga Park. Reform:
James Mangia of West Hollywood.
It's the number-two spot on the statewide ticket,
but the lieutenant governor's race typically falls well "below the radar screen"
in terms of political prominence and voter awareness. So it's not surprising that
a spring Field Poll found the top vote-getter for lieutenant governor was "undecided,"
garnering 55 percent among likely voters. Conducted in early March, the polling showed
voters are not yet familiar enough with the candidates to make firm choices.
And with 15 candidates on the ballot, there'll be plenty of choices. In the Field
Poll, the frontrunner with 17 percent was former Democratic Assembly Speaker Cruz
Bustamante of Fresno, who held the top post for 14 months until term limits handed
him a retirement notice. With his Central Valley roots, Hispanic heritage and ties
to Democratic Party faithful -- both U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer
have endorsed him -- he's well situated. And Bustamante's got the money. As speaker,
he amassed a campaign warchest of roughly $1.5 million, most of which he unabashedly
took with him when he decided to run for lieutenant governor.
His chief Democratic rival is Tony Miller, former deputy secretary of state and best
known for spearheading the campaign-finance reform measure, Proposition 208, which
was passed by voters in 1996 but thrown out by the courts earlier this year. Miller,
a passionate believer in reducing candidates' reliance on special-interest donations,
calls this campaign "a contest between the message and the money." In a
blanket primary, he says his call for campaign-finance reform will appeal to voters
across the political spectrum. By voluntarily limiting himself to 208's ceiling on
individual donations, however, Miller will be hardpressed to get his message out
to voters. His standing in the recent Field Poll was 5 percent.
On the Republican side, money could vault Noel Irwin Hentschel, a little known but
well-financed travel agency owner, into the frontrunner Republican ranks. The multimillionaire
founder and CEO of AmericanTours International and a mother of seven, Irwin Hentschel
is making her first bid for elective office. In a pack of white male politicians,
she stands apart both in gender and her non-politician status. Those attributes may
bode well for her among cross-over Democrats who are free to jump party in this first-ever
blanket primary. Irwin Hentschel has the backing of the old GOP wing, including former
First Lady Nancy Reagan and Republican advisor Stu Spencer, and recently was endorsed
by the Northern California Lincoln Club.
Vying with her for GOP votes are state Senators Tim Leslie of Tahoe City and Richard
Mountjoy of Arcadia. Also running in her first try at elected office is Republican
Ingrid Lundberg of Sacramento, who works in her family's rice-growing business.
Leslie appears to have successfully conquered a rare form of bone marrow cancer that
kept him out of the Legislature the past several months while convalescing at home.
Armed with a doctor's clean bill of health and wearing a wig after intense chemotherapy
treatments, Leslie announced in February that he's ready for the campaign trail.
He garnered some statewide attention last year for toughening driver's license requirements
for teens. Mountjoy, a conservative legislator since 1978, has been a vocal opponent
of gun-control bills. He also authored Proposition 187, the anti-illegal immigration
bill on the 1994 ballot. The three main GOP rivals divvied up the Field Poll vote
with Mountjoy taking 8 percent, Leslie 6 percent and Irwin Hentschel 3 percent.
-- Article by Claudia Buck