California Political History and The Lone Ranger (2013) movie

“Latham Cole” from The Lone Ranger (2013)

It has been more than two years since we wrote about Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the vampire Barnabas Collins in the movie “Dark Shadows”. Collins, as you may remember, was apparently named after a 1900s Assemblyman buried at the Sacramento City Cemetery.

It’s happened again.

In the Lone Ranger, a western movie set in 1869, the villain is a railroad tycoon named Latham Cole. It’s an interesting name, and may have been made by combining the names of two 1860s U.S. Senators from California (Milton S. Latham and Cornelius Cole). Latham served both as Governor in 1859-1860 and then as U.S. Senator 1860-1863, while Cole served in the U.S. Senate between 1869-1873.

  • FUN FACT ABOUT SENATOR COLE: His lifetime overlapped that of every US President between (but not including) George Washington and Bill Clinton.


Fmr. Congressman Frank Riggs in the News

While reading the news this morning, I stumbled on an article in the LA Times about former California congressman Frank D. Riggs.

Arizona swiftly adopts law mandating high school civics test
High school students have their hands full worrying about passing core math, science and English classes to graduate. In Arizona, a new requirement has been added to their load, a civics test with questions like this one: Who was president during the Great Depression and World War II?…

“We are asserting and promoting the idea that our high school students should at a minimum be able to pass the test that immigrants must also pass,” said Frank Riggs, president and chief executive of the Scottsdale-based Joe Foss Institute, which has been pushing for the testing requirement around the country. “It is a common-sense thing to have a base line for everyone,” the former congressman from California and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate in Arizona said Friday.
[Read the Article Here]

HOW LONG AGO? Attorney General for Senator


In the past week, speculation has exploded as U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer announced her retirement in 2016 and Attorney General Kamala Harris began her campaign. By Thursday, Harris had become the leading candidate (of two announced; Merv Evans has also announced his candidacy), with Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters asking “Does Kamala Harris have free ride to Senate?

It seemed like a good time to take a peek at the history books.

For the record, it has happened only once before. James McDougall, California’s first Attorney General (1850-1851) [and also the AG in Illinois in 1842-1846] was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1861. In the century and a half since, none have been successful.

Interestingly, two of California’s Attorneys General had previously run unsuccessful campaigns for U.S. Senate (Fred N. Howser (elected AG in 1946 and lost for Senate in 1944) and Jerry Brown (elected AG in 2006 and lost for Senate in 1982).

Alternatively, one of our U.S. Senators, Aaron A. Sargent, won election to the Senate (1871) after having lost a campaign for Attorney General (1857).

In short, while not completely unprecedented, making the leap from Attorney General to Senator is not something that happens every day. Antonio Villaraigosa, another likely candidate, will probably take heart from the fact that three of California’s last five U.S. Senators had experience as Mayors; Feinstein (San Francisco), Seymour (Anaheim), and Wilson (San Diego).