Rep. Dan Lungren (R)
California 3rd District
Until recently, Sacramento was chiefly the metropolis of a fertile valley that produced a marvelous variety of crops: rice, plums, almonds, olives, asparagus, pears, hops, beans, celery, onions, potatoes, plus caviar-yielding sturgeon in pools of filtered water. The farmlands remain, and the capital city flourishes as a center of government. Until recessionary forces struck in 2007, greater Sacramento was one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country. Almost all the growth has been away from the floodplain of the Sacramento River, in the higher land east of the city that eventually turns into hills rising toward the Sierra Nevadas. But home sales plunged and foreclosures soared in 2007, which led to service cutbacks in Sacramento County. Amador and Calaveras counties are Mother Lode Country, which filled up with people in the gold rush days, when Mark Twain was inspired to write his story about the famous jumping frog of Calaveras County. In rapidly growing Rancho Cordova, local leaders created a “new urbanist” development plan with a new downtown in place of aging strip malls. But some things have not changed. When an animal-rights group tried to cancel the annual Jumping Frog Jubilee, a local official said that the frogs are not tortured and that the jubilee would continue.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 3rd Congressional District of California includes much of suburban Sacramento, some territory in Solano County and some of the Mother Lode Country to the east. The district reaches over the Sierras to Alpine County, the smallest county in California (1,145 people in 2007), with the state’s highest mountain ridgeline. The district stops at the Nevada line. Population in the district grew 21% from 2000 to 2007. More than 80% of the people in the district live in Sacramento County, in suburbs like Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Arden-Arcade, and the old town of Folsom, where Intel has a campus of about 6,000 employees and created a prosperous company town. Historically, Sacramento was Democratic. But Sacramento County, with its rapid growth, continues to shift politically. The district voted 58% for George W. Bush in 2004, but Barack Obama prevailed over John McCain, 49.3%-48.8%, in 2008.
Rep. Dan Lungren (R)
Elected: 2004, 8th term.
Born: Sept. 22, 1946, Long Beach .
Education: Notre Dame U., A.B. 1968, Georgetown U., J.D. 1971.
Family: Married (Bobbi); 3 children.
Elected office: U.S. House of Reps.1978-88; CA Atty. Gen. 1990-98.
Professional Career: Staff, U.S. Sen. George Murphy, 1969-70; Staff, U.S. Sen. Bill Brock, 1971; Spec. asst. RNC, 1971-72; Practicing atty., 1973-78.
The congressman from the 3rd District is Dan Lungren, elected in 2004 after an earlier decade as representative to the 42nd District. Lungren grew up in Long Beach, and his father was President Nixon’s personal physician. Young Dan worked on the staffs of Sens. George Murphy of California and Bill Brock of Tennessee, both Republicans. After a few years of law practice in Long Beach, he unsuccessfully challenged Democratic “Watergate baby” Mark Hannaford in the U.S. House in 1976, then came back and won rather easily in 1978 with a boost from the anti-tax Proposition 13. He entered a freshman class that included Reps. Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich, as well as Jerry Lewis and Bill Thomas of California. During his initial years in Congress, Lungren focused on criminal-code reform on the Judiciary Committee.
|Dan Lungren (R)||155,424||(49%)||($1,325,036)|
|Bill Durston (D)||137,971||(44%)||($731,513)|
|Dina Padilla (PF)||13,378||(4%)|
|Douglas Tuma (Lib)||7,273||(2%)||($553)|
|Dan Lungren (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (59%), 2004 (62%), 1986 (73%), 1984 (73%), 1982 (69%), 1980 (72%), 1978 (54%)
Lungren was also a member of the Conservative Opportunity Society, the influential group of young House conservatives organized by Gingrich, who went on to lead Republicans to capture majority control of the house in 1994. He played a key role on major immigration legislation in 1986, which made it illegal to knowingly hire illegal immigrants. He left the House in 1989 after he was nominated to be California state treasurer, but he was deemed too partisan and was not confirmed by the state Senate. In 1990, he was elected to the first of two terms as California attorney general. After losing 58%-38% to Democrat Gray Davis in the 1998 race for governor, Lungren worked in the Sacramento area as a visiting professor and radio talk-show host. He joined a Washington-based law firm.
In 2004, 3rd District incumbent Republican Doug Ose honored his pledge to retire after serving three terms, and Lungren ran for the seat. His toughest competition was in the Republican primary, in which he faced Mary Ose, the incumbent’s sister, and state Sen. Rico Oller. Ose, a real estate developer, raised more than $2 million, much of it from her own pocket. Despite an almost 2-to-1 fundraising advantage over the others, she won only 23% of the votes. Oller, with a geographic base in Amador and Calaveras counties, attacked Lungren as soft on immigration. Lungren ran an ad with praise from Gingrich for his work on the 1986 immigration bill, and beat Oller 39%-36%, winning 42%-32% in Sacramento County, which cast 82% of the total vote. In the GOP-leaning district, Lungren easily won the general election over Democrat Bill Lockyer, 62%-35%. He returned to Congress representing a district nearly 400 miles north of his old one.
Lungren quickly resumed his status as an influential Republican player and usually voted with conservatives. He got credit for his previous service and gained senior positions on the Judiciary Committee and the Homeland Security Committee, though he lost a bid in September 2005 to chair Homeland Security. Subsequently, he worked with Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., to enact a bill enhancing port security, including requirements to scan cargo containers for radioactive materials.
On Judiciary, he opposed restrictions on the USA PATRIOT Act as “compromising our ability to investigate terrorist cases,” and helped to write the House-passed bill for warrantless surveillance, which has been controversial with civil-liberties groups. Lungren sided with most House Republicans in 2006 in opposing the Senate-passed immigration bill that included a guest-worker program. He emphasized the need to “get control of our border.” He also was a sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
Sometimes a maverick, Lungren criticized his party for the huge growth of spending earmarks during the years they controlled the majority. That may be one of the reasons his leadership ambitions have been stymied. In November 2006, he ran fourth of four candidates to become chairman of the Republican Conference, the third-ranking post. And he ran a seemingly futile last-minute challenge to Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio in November 2008. Lungren cited the need for the party to adopt more fiscally conservative policies. In 2009, Boehner tapped him as the ranking Republican on the House Administration Committee, the housekeeping panel that controls perks for fellow members.
In 2006, Lungren was re-elected 59%-38% against Bill Durston, an emergency-room physician who served with the Marines in Vietnam and was endorsed by a national group that funded candidates who backed the impeachment of President Bush. He had an unexpectedly close rematch with Durston in 2008. Durston tried to connect Lungren to special interests in Washington, and Lungren accused him of “McCarthyism on the left.” Lungren this time won by only 49%-44%, and he could draw another tough challenge in 2010.