Full slate of candidates for California's lieutenant governor

Campaign ads are hitting the airwaves for California's lieutenant govener seat, a statewide office that critics say has few responsibilities and is often overshadowed by the higher-profile gubernatorial race. 

This June, however, eleven candidates are on the ballot: four Democrats, four Republicans, two no-party candidates and one Libertarian. 

Some are raising millions of dollars to get the job. The lieutenant govener's responsibilities include assuming the role of President of the State Senate, serving on the UC Board of Regents, the California State University Board, as well as the State Lands Commission and the State Economic Development Commission. 

California's Democratic party was unable to reach consensus on which candidate to endorse, and that has two well-funded candidates, attorney Jeff Bleich and businesswoman Eleni Kounalakis touting their endorsements on their television ads.

Bleich, who was appointed ambassador to Australia by President Obama, says he has been endorsed by the Sierra Club, and major California newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Mercury News/East Bay Times newspapers. 

"I really want to do this job," said Bleich, "I'm a workhorse not a show horse," said Bleich.

"I've been not only chair of the Cal State Board. I was President of the State Bar, I chaired the Fulbright board. I've been US ambassador, special counsel to the President," said Bleich, "but many people probably haven't heard my name. I care about getting the job done... I care about the job I don't care about getting the limelight." 

Democrat Eleni Kounalakis is a Bay Area developer and former Ambassador to Hungary, appointed by President Obama.  

"I'm a businesswoman. I understand the economics of the state," said Kounalakis. 

"The one thing I've done that no one has done is I've visited all 58 counties in California," said Kounalakis, who says if you're asking for people's vote "you really should go out and talk to them and listen and hear what their priorities are so that's sort of the cornerstone of my campaign."

Her campaign ads feature an endorsement by U.S. Senator Kamala Harris. She says she has also been endorsed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

"Frankly, it was also appealing to me that there had never been a woman ever elected to Lt. Governor in the state of California before and after what happened in 2016, breaking a glass ceiling seemed like it would be a worthy cause," said Kounalakis.

Democratic State Senator Ed Hernandez, an optometrist who represents California's 22nd Senate District East of Los Angeles says his experience in the legislature makes him most qualified. 

"The big difference is I'm the only candidate that has elected experience as a state legislator in the Assembly and the Senate," Hernandez said, "All of those relationships I've built over the last 12 years, I will continue to foster." 

Hernandez has received endorsements from the Chair of the California Democratic Party, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and numerous law enforcement and labor unions. 

Democrat Cameron Gharabiklou, an attorney from the Los Angeles area says he decided to run after the 2016 presidential election. 

"My name is Cameron Gharabikou. I am a proud Persian-Mexican-American. I am a Californian and I am proud to run for Lt. Governor," said Gharabikou in an online video.

Four Republicans are on the ballot for Lt. Governor.

The front runner is Cole Harris, who won the endorsement of the California Republican Party. 

The southern California CEO and founder of investment firms says his business experience makes him ideal for the Lt. Governor's role chairing the economic development commission.

"I develop and implement strategies for sustaining businesses and attracting new businesses all the time. increasing our state exports, creating new jobs, stimulating the industry statewide. So this is something i already do," said Harris. 

Republican Lydia Ortega, a San Jose state economics professor says her 30 years in academia make her the best choice to serve on the UC and CSU boards to tackle educational issues. She also says she was raised in Los Angeles to a family where seeing both sides of an issue was part of daily life. 

"My dad was an ardent Democrat and my mom was an ardent Republican. So I quickly learned how to see both sides, and assess the cost and benefits," Ortega says in her campaign video.

Also from the Bay Area, Republican David Fennell is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who grew up in Half Moon Bay and says he's running to crack down on fraud. http://www.fennellforcalifornia.com/

Republican David Hernandez is a retired businessman and U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran from Southern California who is a former Executive Director of the San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce. 

Danny Thomas, a dental surgeon, is one of the two candidates who are running for Lt. Governor with no party affiliation.
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The other one is former Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin. She says she's running to unite progressives statewide and has won support from Democratic socialists, Green Party groups and Bernie Sanders supporters. 

One Libertarian, Tim Ferreira is a programmer and entrepreneur who states on his website that he feels the job is not necessary and if elected, he'd work to eliminate the Lt. Governor position and distribute the duties to eleven other offices. 

The top two vote-getters regardless of party will advance to the November runoff.

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