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Jon Fleischman

Senator Mark Wyland Drops Bid For Board Of Equalization

Yesterday I took a call from my friend of more than 15 years — State Senator Mark Wyland.  As most FR readers know, for quite some time Senator Wyland has been actively campaigning to succeed Michelle Steel on the State Board of Equalization.  Steel, who is facing term limits, is seeking a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors.  Wyland has been engaged in a rather high-profile (at least within political circles) contest with Assemblywoman Diane Harkey for the BOE seat.

Senator Wyland has decided to end his campaign for the Board of Equalization, and will not be completing the process of filing for that office.  

While I have some thoughts on this decision by my friend, I first would like to share with you a statement that the Senator sent me after our call, that he asked me to pass along to our readers….

Senator Mark Wyland


“This past weekend my family held a celebration of life for my mother,who passed away late last year.   I thought about her advice to me, shortly before she passed away:  “life is short; you have some goals in education that are very important to you—you better get at it.”  

I had been in business for more than twenty years, and had extensive dealings with the Board of Equalization; it seemed natural to continue public service with the same Board because I knew how to improve it.

However, I realized my mother was right.   Therefore, I am announcing my withdrawal from the race for a seat on the Board of Equalization.  Politics is partly about competition, and it is not easy to walk away from that.  But competition is not a sufficient reason to run for office.

It became clear to me that the personal resources that I had set aside to run for this office would be better spent on the education foundation I had formed many years ago.  At this point in my life, it is more important to me to help students rather than to achieve another political office.

My colleagues and friends are familiar with my passion to improve education, especially in the areas to which I have devoted so much time and effort:  civic education, vocational education, science and technology education, and others.  I feel a deep need, a calling, to continue to devote my efforts to this important cause.  

I want to thank all those who have supported me.  Your encouragement has been invaluable and gratifying.  I hope to continue to work with you as I move forward to accomplish these goals.”

The obvious piece of stunning political analysis that I will offer here is that short of some unknown, formidable Republican pulling and returning papers for the BOE seat in the next week (the filing deadline is next Friday), Assemblywoman Diane Harkey will pretty much walk into this office, which has enough Republican voters to ensure a GOPer will win.

Both Wyland and Harkey are both solid conservatives (they both scored 100% on the recently-released American Conservative Union ratings of the California legislature).  Harkey will be a solid pro-taxpayer representative on the BOE.

That said, I did want to take a moment to share some thoughts about Wyland.  I have known Mark since 1997, when he was on his local school board in northern San Diego County, and had decided to run for state Superintendent of Public Instruction.  I was the campaign manager for Gloria Matta Tuchman, a bilingual education teacher who also decided to run for SPI.  He and Gloria met — and ultimately Mark was impressed by Gloria, and not only deferred to her — but also made a sizable contribution to Gloria’s race.

Since then Mark and I kept in touch, and of course when he decided to run for the State Assembly in 2000 I was as supportive as I could be, given my employment as Executive Director of the California Republican Party.  Throughout his tenure in the Assembly, and in the State Senate, Mark has not only been a consistent voice for limited government, liberty for the people, and economic freedom — but he has been an active participant in trying to help Republicans advance their position in this state.

Mark will, of course, finish out his final term in the State Senate, and, as he says in his statement above, he will focus his attentions on the issue about which he is most passionate — education policy and helping students to have the tools they need to succeed.