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Cruz M. Bustamante: 1953—: Lieutenant Governor, Politician

Moderate Politics Lead To Lieutenant Governorship

Bustamante was not a high-profile politician early in his career, but he was also not afraid to speak out about important issues. He was especially vocal about the agricultural industry and the immigrant labor force, which were both central to his district. In 1994 Bustamante took a stand against California Governor Pete Wilson's immigration policies. "I take it real personal when immigrants are made out to be the root of all evil," Bustamante told the California Journal Weekly in July of 1994. "They're saying that my grandparents, who worked for themselves and succeeded without being dependent on any social programs, had no merit."

In 1994 Bustamante was reelected as assemblyman of the 31st District. Two years later he became the first Latino speaker of the state assembly. Although Bustamante won 90 percent of the Latino vote in the 1996 election and he had been a strong proponent of immigrants' rights and issues, Bustamante was not a militant Latino who pushed an ethnic agenda. He was a self-described moderate or centrist, which he attributed to his upbringing. Bustamante recalled the tensions between white and Latino children in school and he learned as a child that it was best for him to tread in the middle of the two extremes. "I am built moderate. That's who I am," Bustamante was quoted from a speech by Peter Maass of U.S. News & World Report in March of 1997.

Bustamante has repeatedly explained that he has an American political agenda, not an ethnic agenda. Since his days in the California Assembly, this agenda has consisted of promoting good schools, safe neighborhoods, decent jobs, and opportunities for personal achievement. This straightforward platform won Bustamante the 1998 election for California's lieutenant governor, a constitutional officer who is elected separately from the governor. With this victory Bustamante became the first Latino to be elected to a statewide office in California since 1878. This historic event was celebrated by numerous high ranking political officials, including the vice president of the United States at that time, Al Gore. When Bustamante was sworn into office, he vowed to create more jobs for Californians. "I will work to breathe life into the dreams of entrepreneurs and to eliminate the needless regulation that strangles innovation," Bustamante said to the San Francisco Chronicle in January of 1999.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Katie Burke (1953–) Biography - Personal to Galeazzo Ciano (1903–1944) BiographyCruz M. Bustamante: 1953—: Lieutenant Governor, Politician Biography - Childhood Filled With Work And Values, Moderate Politics Lead To Lieutenant Governorship, Laid Groundwork During First Term