VAL­LEY LEG­IS­LA­TOR

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Front Page -

Phil Wy­man never saw an elec­tion he didn’t think he could win. More than a few times over four decades, he did. The former state leg­is­la­tor, fre­quent po­lit­i­cal can­di­date and re­lent­less con­ser­va­tive has died.

Phil Wy­man never saw an elec­tion he didn’t think he could win. And, more than a few times over four decades, he did.

The former state leg­is­la­tor, fre­quent po­lit­i­cal can­di­date and re­lent­less con­ser­va­tive died Fri­day at age 74, ac­cord­ing to his sonin-law, Clint Bea­com.

The long­time Te­hachapi res­i­dent rep­re­sented por­tions of the An­te­lope Val­ley dur­ing his 18 years in the leg­is­la­ture, first as a state Assem­bly­man from 1978 to 1992, then as a state Sen­a­tor from 1993 to 1994 and, in some­thing of a come­back, again in the state As­sem­bly from 2000 to 2002.

“Phil was al­ways proud to be (first) elected in 1978, when a good num­ber of con­ser­va­tive as­sem­bly­men were elected,” said friend Paul Stine, who served on Wy­man’s staff in 1994 when he was a state sen­a­tor. “They called them­selves Prop. 13 ba­bies.”

Wy­man ran for state or na­tional of­fice at least 19 times, win­ning nine — in­clud­ing eight elec­tions in a row at one point early in his ca­reer — and los­ing 10

— in­clud­ing his last six in a row.

Wy­man sought po­lit­i­cal of­fice as re­cently as three years ago, run­ning in 2016 for the U.S. Se­nate seat be­ing va­cated by Demo­crat Bar­bara Boxer. In the June 7 pri­mary, Wy­man came in fourth in the over­all field, with 247,397 to­tal votes, and thus was the se­cond high­est-per­form­ing Repub­li­can in the field. Ge­orge “Duf” Sund­heim was the top Repub­li­can fin­isher, but he lost to Demo­crat Ka­mala Har­ris that Novem­ber.

“He be­lieved in what he did and was ex­tremely pas­sion­ate about it,” Bea­com said. “He spent al­most noth­ing and gained mass sup­port through­out the state. He did it be­cause he be­lieved in some­thing.

“He con­nected peo­ple. He didn’t care about their pol­i­tics. This is why he gained so much sup­port from African Amer­i­cans and His­panic farm work­ers. For a Repub­li­can to do that, he was special.”

Wy­man ran for the as­sem­bly seat va­cated by Kevin McCarthy in 2006, fac­ing po­lit­i­cal new­com­ers

Jean Fuller and Stan El­lis. He based his can­di­dacy on what he viewed as the No. 1 prob­lem on the minds of vot­ers — il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. His plan: Cre­ate a new state bor­der po­lice force. Fuller won the seat.

As an assem­bly­man, Wy­man got a lot of pub­lic­ity for back­ing the claim of some re­li­gious con­ser­va­tives that sa­tanic mes­sages could be heard by play­ing rock mu­sic records back­ward.

Wy­man had leg­isla­tive achieve­ments to tout de­spite the fact that his ten­ure in the As­sem­bly, and briefly in the state Se­nate, was spent un­der Demo­cratic con­trol.

He helped pass leg­is­la­tion to re­quire parental no­ti­fi­ca­tion of teenage abor­tions, although it was thrown out by the courts and was later re­jected by vot­ers.

A big solo leg­isla­tive ac­com­plish­ment was his spon­sor­ship of the 1994 law that al­lows pub­lic schools to re­quire stu­dents to wear uni­forms.

Wy­man claimed a large share of credit for pas­sage of a three strikes bill in 1994, although some say his role was largely per­func­tory be­cause an iden­ti­cal ini­tia­tive was al­ready headed for the bal­lot and passed over­whelm­ingly.

In 1978 former Gov. Ge­orge Duek­me­jian chose Wy­man to write leg­is­la­tion reau­tho­riz­ing the death penalty, ac­cord­ing to Stine. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown ve­toed it, but Duek­me­jian led an ef­fort to over­ride Brown’s veto.

Af­ter three decades of in­ces­sant cam­paigns, Wy­man de­vel­oped a love-hate re­la­tion­ship with the Repub­li­can Party. He re­tained a reser­voir of fiercely loyal sup­port­ers among hard­core con­ser­va­tives in Kern County.

Out­side the county, how­ever, Wy­man was able to gather just a hand­ful of out­side en­dorse­ments from law en­force­ment and gun-owner groups and a few former state of­fi­cials.

“Wy­man was a smart, wily, con­ser­va­tive mav­er­ick who made un­for­get­table head­lines while serv­ing many years in both the As­sem­bly and State Se­nate,” Bak­ers­field at­tor­ney Bran­don Martin wrote in a Face­book post.

Away from pol­i­tics, Wy­man was a rancher and camp op­er­a­tor. He was di­vorced, with three chil­dren.

Wood Fam­ily Funeral Ser­vice of Te­hachapi said Wy­man’s obit­u­ary and ser­vice times would be an­nounced at a later time. In the mean­time, con­do­lences can be sent to wood­mor­tu­ary.net.

PHIL WY­MAN

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