Maverick Assemblyman Don A. Sebastiani of Sonoma announced Wednesday that he will give up his seat in the Legislature to seek the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in 1986.
Sebastiani, a member of a Sonoma Valley wine-making family, is a conservative three-term lawmaker best known for his unsuccessful effort to overturn the 1982 reapportionment of legislative and congressional district boundaries.
He launched his campaign for statewide office at a press conference by attacking Democratic Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy for his past opposition to the death penalty and for his support of controversial Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird. McCarthy announced a change of heart in July, saying that he would support capital punishment in certain cases.
“Most Californians don’t know who their lieutenant governor is,” Sebastiani said.
Sebastiani is the second Republican to enter the race for lieutenant governor. Orange County Supervisor Bruce Nestande, a former assemblyman, announced his candidacy in June.
Sebastiani contended that Nestande is too “liberal” to win the Republican nomination. But Nestande, a longtime Ronald Reagan backer, countered that his conservative credentials are “established impeccably.”
Two other conservative Republicans are considering the race, former Lt. Gov. Mike Curb and state Sen. H. L. Richardson of Glendora.
In announcing his candidacy, Sebastiani sought to tie himself to Gov. George Deukmejian even though he did not support Deukmejian for the gubernatorial nomination in 1982.
Sebastiani, who won reelection last year with only 52% of the vote, also conceded that leaving the Assembly would give Democrats a chance to increase their 47-33 majority. His district, he said, is “eminently winnable by the Democrats.”