Richard Mountjoy, GOP legislator and key Prop. 187 backer, dies at 83

Richard Mountjoy, former California Republican legislator, dies at 83

Richard Mountjoy, a retired California legislator who was a steadfast conservative and a key sponsor of Proposition 187, a 1993 measure designed to curb illegal immigration by cutting funds for schooling and medical care for those in the country illegally, has died. He was 83.

Mountjoy died Monday at his home in Monrovia, a family friend said.

A Republican, Mountjoy served in Sacramento for 22 years. He was in the Assembly from 1978 to '95, and in the Senate from 1995 to 2000.

In 2006, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate against longtime incumbent Dianne Feinstein. In his campaign literature, he said he believed in “God, Country, and Family in that order” and pledged to “protect our nation from the threat of terrorists, the illegal alien invasion and runaway government spending.”

His admittedly long-shot campaign gained little traction and he lost by 24 points.

Born Jan. 13, 1932, in Monrovia, Mountjoy served in the Navy during the Korean War and later owned a construction company in his hometown. He ran for the local City Council in 1968, “having been through every chair in the Elks,” as he later told The Times.

With eight years as a council member and as Monrovia’s mayor, he was elected to the Assembly with other conservatives in the wake of the popular Proposition 13 anti-tax measure.

He was known for his support of gun owners, his opposition to abortion and his tough stand on illegal immigration. Proposition 187, while approved by voters, was later ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.

When Mountjoy won a special election to the state Senate, he refused to give up his Assembly seat because doing so would allow longtime Democratic leader Willie Brown to regain his powerful post as speaker. In a bitterly contentious series of maneuvers, Democrats ousted Mountjoy from the Assembly and Brown was again elected speaker.

At the time, Mountjoy denounced his removal as “the most corrupt power play in the history of the state of California.”

On Tuesday, however, his friend Robert Parry recalled him as being more bipartisan than he ever let on.

“Dick had a mischievous streak, something that glowed through the tale he told me of his fishing buddy, a politician of the exact opposite ideology with whom he would take private trips where no newspaper would find out,” Parry wrote in a statement.

“That those same newspapers portrayed him as someone who would never consort with the other side didn't seem to bother him much. The substance of the relationship -- the substance of who he was as a man -- was more important than someone else's myth.”

Mountjoy’s wife, Earline, died in 2009. They were married 57 years.

His son Dennis Mountjoy served in the Assembly from 2000 to '06.

A complete list of surviving family members was not available.

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