Rep. John Campbell (R)
Elected: Dec. 2005, 2nd full term.
Born: July 19, 1955, Los Angeles .
Education: U.C.L.A., B.A. 1976, U. of S. CA, M.B.T., 1977.
Family: Married (Catherine); 2 children.
Elected office: CA Assembly, 2000-04; CA Senate, 2004-05.
Professional Career: Tax accountant, 1977-78; Auto dealership executive, 1978-2003.
The congressman from the 48th District is John Campbell, a Republican who won a special election in December 2005. He has deep roots in Southern California. His great-grandfather was a Republican member of the state Assembly in 1860, and his grandfather was the managing editor of the now-defunct Herald-Examiner, W.R. Hearst’s rival to the Los Angeles Times. Campbell’s father was an oil field geologist and investor who later edited the Herald-Examiner’s financial pages. John Campbell graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles and got a master’s degree in business taxation from the University of Southern California. A certified public accountant, he did a stint with Ernst & Young, one of the big accounting firms, and then joined an Orange County automobile dealership group as controller in 1978. Reviewing the company’s books, Campbell discovered that the company’s management had diverted $500,000 toward personal expenses. He alerted shareholders, including his father. The chief executive officer was fired, and Campbell was given the job. He later declared a no-haggling policy at each of Campbell Automotive’s car dealerships. “We want to be the Nordstrom of auto retailing,” he told the Orange County Register in 1989. In the 1990s, he sold off Campbell Automotive’s Mazda, Ford, and Nissan dealerships to focus on its remaining Saab franchises—and on politics. In 2000, Campbell won an Irvine-based seat in the California Assembly, and four years later was elected to the state Senate.
|John Campbell (R)||171,658||(56%)||($776,452)|
|Steve Young (D)||125,537||(41%)||($268,129)|
|Don Patterson (Lib)||11,507||(4%)|
|John Campbell (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (60%); 2005 (44%)
Campbell got his opportunity to run for Congress when President Bush selected Rep. Christopher Cox to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission in June 2005. Campbell was instantly the front-runner in this solidly Republican district. Also in the primary was Marilyn Brewer, a former state Assembly member who supported abortion rights and embryonic-stem-cell research, and drew support from the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership. Campbell was endorsed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom he had worked closely with in Sacramento, and by the state and Orange County Republican parties. With 19 candidates running for the seat in the all-party October 4 special primary, Campbell finished first with 45%, well above Brewer’s 17%, to win the Republican nomination. Steve Young was the Democratic nominee after winning 9%. Jim Gilchrist, founder of the anti-illegal-immigrant Minuteman Project, finished third with 15% and was the nominee of the American Independent Party. In the campaign for the December 4 runoff, Gilchrist criticized Campbell for his votes in the Assembly, prompting Campbell to say that he made a mistake in 2001 when he voted to allow illegal immigrants to receive in-state college tuition. Gilchrist’s single-issue campaign caught Campbell off guard and turned the contest into a referendum on immigration. Campbell won, though with a surprisingly modest 44% to 28% for Democrat Young and 25% for Gilchrist. Nearly 13,000 more votes were cast in December than October, but Campbell picked up just 4,800 votes over his October performance; the bulk of the other votes went to Young and Gilchrist.
In the House, Campbell’s voting record is mostly conservative but more centrist on economic issues. He has seats on the Budget and Financial Services committees. He moved quickly into a leadership role among conservatives as chairman of the budget and spending task force of the Republican Study Committee. He led Republicans angry about Congress’s lack of spending restraint, offering a series of amendments designed to embarrass sponsors of questionable spending earmarks. Campbell rarely got many more than 100 votes, but made a point about wasteful spending. He started the Green Eyeshade blog on the Townhall.com conservative website to explain details of the federal budget. When he learned that Democrats planned to embarrass him by highlighting his support for a $2.5 million water project for his district, he withdrew his support for it. But he parted company with most fiscal conservatives in September 2008 when he backed the bailout of the financial industry, which he said was vital to rescue the economy. With that shift, he abandoned his bid to chair the conservative Republican Study Committee. But he remained an outspoken critic of “big spending.”
At home, Campbell has been re-elected easily.