Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Bustamante was born in Dinuba, California and attended but dropped out of Fresno City College. He was elected to the California State Assembly in a special election in 1993. He became the Speaker of the Assembly in 1996. He has served as the Lieutenant Governor since 1999. He was the first Latino elected to statewide office in California in more than 120 years and was also the highest-ranking elected Latino officeholder in the United States until Bill Richardson became Governor of New Mexico in 2003. Bustamante earned his B.A. via correspondence school from the California State University, Fresno in 2003.
He was the most prominent Democrat to run in the 2003 California recall election to remove Governor Gray Davis, and placed second to Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, losing by approximately 1.3 million votes.
Bustamante had an apparently icy relationship with Governor Davis, a fellow Democrat, during his tenure. They reportedly had not talked in months before the recall election approached. Bustamante's decision to run in the recall election was controversial, as many supporters of Governor Davis had urged prominant Democrats not to run, in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the event. Though Bustamante ran on a platform slogan of "No on Recall, Yes on Bustamante," indicating he opposed the recall, critics accused his run as an act of personal opportunism and disloyalty.
Bustamante drew some criticism during the election for his involvement with the Chicano organization MEChA in the 1970s. He also was accused of accepting donations above the state's contribution cap by funneling money through former campaign accounts.
With his wife Arcelia, Bustamante has three daughters.
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