After graduating from St. Anthony High School in 1964, Lungren earned a A.B. with honors in English from the University of Notre Dame in 1968, upon which he returned to California to chair Youth for Nixon during Nixon's first successful run for the presidency.
Lungren began law school at the University of Southern California and later transferred to Georgetown University Law Center from which he earned his J.D. in 1971. During his years at Georgetown, Lungren worked on the staff of U.S. Senators George Murphy (R-CA) and Bill Brock (R-TN). He also was special assistant to the Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) from 1971 to 1972. In addition, during his period of time in Washington, Lungren's wife worked in the White House.
Lungren first served in the House of Representatives from 1979 to 1989, representing portions of Long Beach and Orange County. He was one of Newt Gingrich's chief lieutenants during this time, and was a founding member of the Conservative Opportunity Society. He served on the House Judiciary Committee, where he pushed for sanctions against employers who hired illegal immigrants, but supported a temporary guest-worker program. He was the principal House cosponsor of the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration bill, which became the Immigration Reform Act of 1986. He also independently sponsored a "guest worker" bill, designed to allow for importation of "temporary" immigrant laborers.
Lungren left the House when California Governor George Deukmejian appointed him as California's acting State Treasurer, but was never confirmed. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Democrats "praised Lungren's integrity, but said they were unwilling to vote for a Republican whose congressional voting record was so conservative." However, Lungren was later elected as California Attorney General in 1990 and served from 1991-1999. Lungren worked in passing such legislation as "Megan's Law," "3-Strikes-and-You're-Out," "Sexual Anti-Predator Act," and the "California's Safe Schools Plan." From 1993 to 1998, California saw a 30 percent decrease in crime. In 1996, he was considered as a possible running mate for Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole.
In 1998, Lungren ran as the Republican candidate for governor against Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gray Davis. Davis received 57.9% of the votes, while Lungren got 38.4%. During the campaign, Davis maintained that Lungren was too conservative for California. Davis also criticized Lungren's hesitancy, as California Attorney General, to enforce laws restricing assault weapons and his procrastination to become part of a class action lawsuit against the cigarette industry.
Lungren has said his desire to serve in Congress again was rekindled by the September 11, 2001 attacks. In 2004, Lungren moved to Gold River in Sacramento County and ran in the 3rd Congressional District after six-year incumbent Congressman Doug Ose announced he wouldn't run again. He also left his job as a lobbyist with the Washington, DC firm Venable, Baetjer, Howard and Civiletti.
Lungren won a closely contested three-way primary, coming from behind to best Mary Ose and Rico Oller The 3rd District had been in Democratic hands for 36 years after its creation in 1963 (it was the 4th District from 1963 to 1993), most notably under Congressman Vic Fazio from 1979 to 1999. The district went to Ose after it was redrawn during the 2000 census to be much friendlier to Republicans. Lungren won in November 2004, returning to Congress after a 16-year absence.
Lungren was reappointed to the Judiciary Committee based on his previous five terms of seniority, and also serves on the Budget and Homeland Security committees. He has expressed an interest in becoming involved in immigration issues again. In 2005, Lungren supported the "USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act" , which renewed the Federal Government's ability to perform secret surveillance including wiretaps of citizens and monitoring of public and private computer packet-switched networks to prevent terrorism from hitting the United States. In 2006, Lungren and Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA) authored the SAFE Port Act, which improves security at the ports including additional requirements for maritime facilities, foreign port assessments, container security initiatives and Customs Trade Partnership against Terrorism. The bill passed the House with bipartisan support.
Lungren was one of the first Members of Congress to introduce "tele-town halls," which the congressman would call constituents throughout the district to invite them to engage in a discussion and forum on legislation, policies and events facing the nation. It is way to connect with constituents in the district while the Members are back in Washington, DC.
In 2006, Lungren was reelected to Congress with 59.5% of the vote. His opponent was Marine combat veteran Bill Durston (M.D.) Following his reelection, in addition to the Judicial, Budget and Homeland Security committees, Lungren was appointed to the House Administration Committee.
On April 4th, 2007, Lungren cosponsored a bill indicating that U.S. citizenship is a privilege and should be granted to children born to U.S. citizens or residents with legal immigration status in the U.S., not grant automatic citizenship to children born in the U.S. to illegal aliens
On July 29, 2008, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6295, introduced by Lungren. This legislation is to stop the use of submersible and semi-submersible vessels used to transport drugs and other contrabands, which pose a threat to communities and national security
In January 2008, Marine-combat veteran and Sacramento-area emergency room physician Bill Durston, a Democrat, announced that he would run a second time against Lungren for California's 3rd Congressional District seat. He is an opponent of the Iraq War, and a critic of the Bush administration's overall response to the attacks on America in 2001.
In April 2008, Vice President Dick Cheney was the guest of honor at a fundraiser in the Sacramento area which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Lungren's reelection campaign .
Here is a selection of House votes deemed significant by an anonymous individual on the California State University, Sacramento computer network.
On July 18, 2006, Lungren voted YES on Constitutionally defining marriage as between a man and a woman (the vote was 237 to 187, thus failing to get the two thirds of votes required for the resolution to pass).
On January 23, 2008, Lungren voted NO on attempt to override the President's veto of bill extending SCHIP to cover six million more children (260 voted YES and 152 NO, thus the veto override failed to get the required 2/3 of votes cast).
On March 11, 2008, Lungren voted NO on override of veto of congressional oversight of CIA interrogations (the House vote was 225 for and 188 against, so that the override attempt failed to get the two thirds required).
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