Earl Smittcamp, King of Post-Apocalyptic California, Has Died


Reagan and Smittcamp

Earl Smittcamp, a long-time farmer who spent nearly 50 years in the line of succession to California’s Governor, died today.

Governor Reagan appointed Smittcamp as Disaster Acting Governor #6 in 1967, placing him 14th in the line of succession after California’s statewide elected officials and the five Disaster Acting Governors ahead of him. As noted in a 2011 post on this blog, a law created the Disaster Acting Governors in 1958 amid concerns that a massive Soviet atomic attack on Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Francisco could kill all of the state’s elected officials and lead to the end of the civilian government of the state. 

After the 1966 election, Ronald Reagan moved into the Governor’s office and soon appointed a new group of seven new Disaster Governors. In addition to Smittcamp (designated as “Disaster Acting Governor #6″), the six others were Carlyle Reed (#1), Victor Lundy (#2), R. Gwin Follis (#3), Y. Frank Freeman (#4), Virgil Pinkley (#5), and A. W. Bramwell (#7). Two years later, Reagan appointed Robert L. Vickers to fill the vacancy created when Freeman died in 1969.

No additional Acting Governors were appointed after 1969, and over the years the appointees died of old age until (following the death of Vickers in 2011) Smittcamp became the highest ranking Disaster Acting Governor (11th in line of succession). At the time of his death, Smittcamp had spent more than 47 years in the line of succession, longer than any other person in state history.

Alan Lafaso, Sean Wallentine, Joel Angeles, Mike Gipson, Richard Zeiger, James M. Humes, Dave Stirling, Steve Coony, Collin Wong-Martinusen, Bill Bagley, Evan L. Goldberge, Chris Garland, Earl Smittcamp

The Line of Succession for California’s constitutional offices

Updated: Death of H. J. Widenmann

Updated candidate biography for Assemblyman H. J. Widenmann to note that he died on October 3, 1918 in Vallejo, CA.

Those we lost in 2013

We lost some legends this year. Bill Munnell was a member of the Cold War-era Assembly Doomsday Committee. Newt Russell was one of the very last legislators who set such a high value on following the Legislature’s rules that he wouldn’t allow them to be broken in the name of expediency. Nick Petris authored the Lanterman–Petris–Short Act, which restructured California’s laws relating to ‘mentally disordered people’.

As these giants left us, we wanted to take a moment to recognize their lives and contributions of our state and nation.

Paul J. Lunardi – Assemblyman (1957-1963), State Senator (1963-1968)
Nolan Frizzelle – Assemblyman (1980-1992)

Nicholas C. Petris – Assemblyman (1959-1966), State Senator (1967-1996)
William A. Munnell – Assemblyman (1951-1961), Superior Court Judge (1961-1981)

Bill Royer – Congressman (1979-1980)

Newton R. Russell – Assemblyman (1965-1974), State Senator (1974-1996)

Patricia Wiggins – Assemblywoman (1998-2004), State Senator (2006-2010)

George N. Zenovich – Assemblyman (1963-1970), State Senator (1970-1979)
Ernest F. Vance – American Independent Party (AIP) candidate