It has been one of the glory jobs of American politics, a post that decorated the resumes of a president, a Supreme Court justice and assorted other seminal figures in the nation's political history. This year, there are active campaigns by both Democrats and Republicans seeking their party nominations to become California's chief executive.
Republican Pete Wilson, the incumbent, has overseen a state buffeted by disasters of epic scope, from earthquakes and wildfires to unemployment and economic malaise. Wilson, running what he says will be his last campaign, is fending off the assaults of a 32-year-old computer millionaire and political neophyte, Ron Unz.
On the Democratic side, state Treasurer Kathleen Brown and Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi have campaigned for more than a year, Brown running as the telegenic heir to her family's political dynasty and Garamendi as a jeans-clad everyman who can get California working again. A late entrant into the race was state Sen. Tom Hayden, who has called for wholesale reforms in the system by which California elects its politicians.