THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE:John Campbell’s used to it

As a member of the minority party, Rep. John Campbell, a Republican from Newport Beach, gets to again throw his political clout behind probablydoomed efforts — this time in Washington, D.C., instead of Sacramento.

The latest is a bill by fellow California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter that would pardon two Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a drug smuggler who entered the U.S. illegally. Campbell is one of 82 cosigners on the bill.

A congressional pardon has never been done before, and in the Constitution “it’s ambiguous as to whether you can or not,” Campbell said Tuesday.

But the question may never be debated, because House Democrats likely will refuse to let the bill be heard in committee, Campbell said.

Huntington Beach Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has been leading the charge, castigating President Bush for not pardoning the two agents, who are serving prison time.

Opponents — including the conservative magazine National Review — point out that the agents’ trial showed they didn’t follow procedures during the shooting and tried to cover it up. In Campbell’s opinion, that may be, but the agents’ 20-year sentence was too strict.

“Pardoning is one thing, but there’s a very, very strong, almost irrefutable argument that 20 years was too long for a violation of procedure,” he said.

However, Campbell’s not likely to get a chance to make the case, unless the House judiciary and homeland security committees — both chaired by Democrats — agree to hear the bill.


And add one more Orange County Republican’s support to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s bid for the White House. Newport Beach politico Mike Schroeder will run the Romney campaign in California.

With a track record that includes turning a $3-billion deficit into a balanced budget without new taxes and with bipartisan support, Romney was impressive as a governor and is the best candidate for president, Schroeder said Tuesday.

Schroeder’s challenge will be to make Romney known in a large state far from his home, but his advantage may be that the GOP will use a new primary system in 2008 — and Schroeder wrote the rules for it.

When he was state GOP chairman in 1998, Schroeder helped usher in a new system that lets those seeking the party’s presidential nomination win delegates by congressional district instead of the winner taking the whole state.

“The only three candidates that have any realistic possibility of prevailing are Romney, [John] McCain and [Rudy] Giuliani,” Schroeder said, and Romney “will be extremely well funded.”


State Sen. Tom Harman, who also represents Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, has selected a winner for his There Oughta Be a Law contest, which invited local students to propose an idea for a bill. Marina High School junior Christine Kim of Huntington Beach took the prize for her suggestion that high school students be required to complete a number of hours of volunteer work to graduate.

Kim, 17, who volunteers at Fountain Valley Hospital, flew to Sacramento on Tuesday to introduce the bill for consideration and have lunch with Harman. “I think it’s important to volunteer because once you learn how to volunteer when you’re young, when you get older you’ll know better how to volunteer and be connected,” Kim said. “It’s a great way to give back to your community.”


The Costa Mesa planning commission on Monday honored former commissioners Bruce Garlich and Bill Perkins for their service to the city. Garlich held a commission seat for six years and resigned in January, citing health reasons. Perkins also served for six years, but his term expired in January and the City Council did not reappoint him.