Assembly GOP ousts Campbell as minority leader


SACRAMENTO (AP) – Assembly Republicans voted unanimously Tuesday to oust their leader, Orange County Assemblyman Bill Campbell, and replace him with Sacramento area Assemblyman Dave Cox.

Republicans chose Campbell to be minority leader shortly after last year’s November election, but some lawmakers have complained he has not been aggressive enough in pushing Republicans’ agenda on California’s energy crisis.

Cox, R-Fair Oaks, said he wants to be more active not just on electricity, but related looming problems like spiking natural gas prices and a water and hydroelectric shortage.

”Republicans need a game plan. One that articulates our vision of a situation where we have a 15 percent surplus of power by 2004,” Cox said.

Cox called the vote a ”family matter,” and declined to say why Campbell was ousted. He said he wants Campbell, R-Villa Park, to continue to be involved in Republicans’ energy negotiations with Democrats, who hold a 49-29 edge in the Assembly with two vacancies.

Campbell said he was among those who voted for Cox and didn’t fight the caucus decision. All of the Assembly’s Republicans backed Cox in the closed-door meeting.

Campbell said he doubted the energy crisis cut short his tenure as minority leader. ”The caucus decided to make a change. You never can predict these things,” he said.

But he said the state’s power problems ”created a new and unusual dynamic” within the Republican caucus, forcing a number of freshmen lawmakers to deal with a crisis before they developed relationships with senior legislators.

Cox, 63, was a Sacramento County supervisor for six years before his election to the Legislature in 1998. Before that he was a Sacramento Municipal Utility Board member from 1992-97. He represents the 5th Assembly District, which covers the Sacramento suburbs of Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Antelope, Rio Linda, Folsom and Fair Oaks.

Campbell, 58, was first elected to the Assembly in 1996. He is the founder of BIMA Corp., which runs Taco Bell franchises in Southern California.

He represents the 71st Assembly District, which includes Orange, Villa Park, Tustin, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, Irvine and much of southern Orange County.

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