When Orange County Congressman John Campbell announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election, the Irvine Republican's move immediately led to speculation about who wants the job: State Senator Mimi Walters? Irvine Councilman Jeff Lalloway? Ex-Congressman Christopher Cox? Ex-State Senator Dick Ackerman? Irvine Democratic boss Larry Agran?
As history shows, once a person wins a seat in Congress from here, the position is unofficially but realistically permanent.
The last time a congressman unwillingly lost his post was 17 years ago--Robert K. Dornan to Democrat Loretta Sanchez in an Anaheim, Garden Grove and Santa Ana district.
Dana Rohrabacher--Orange County's senior, career politician--originally won a seat in Congress from Huntington Beach by running on a term-limits platform calling for no more than three terms in Washington, D.C. because, he then argued, to serve longer guaranteed corruption.
A quarter of a century later, Rohrabacher still hasn't left the job.
His 1988 stance about career politicians and corruption might have been the last thing he's gotten right.
Campbell won a special election to replace Chris Cox in the district in 2005 after President George W. Bush appointed the toothy congressman to serve as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
(Cox is now a lawyer in private practice.)
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Campbell's brand of conservatism--he isn't a wide-eyed, screamer like Rohrabacher--wasn't always appreciated in Orange County's Republican ranks.
He voted for Bush's frantic 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that gave hundreds of billions of tax dollars to struggling, private corporations.