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Inventory of the Robert J. Campbell Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • State Assembly, 1980-1996
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Robert J. Campbell Papers
    Dates: 1975-1996
    Collection number: LP400
    Creator: Robert J. Campbell, California Legislator
    Collection Size: 15 cubic feet
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: Robert J. Campbell, a Democrat, was elected to the California State Assembly in 1980 to represent the Eleventh Assembly District. The Robert J. Campbell Papers consist of 15 cubic feet of records reflecting the interests and political activities of Assembly Member Campbell during his 16 years in the California State Legislature.
    Physical location: California State Archives
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Robert J. Campbell Papers, LP400:[folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition and Custodial History

    The California State Archives acquired the Robert J. Campbell Papers following his final term in the State Legislature.


    California legislator Robert J. Campbell was born December 20, 1937 in Los Angeles. His family moved to Richmond, in the San Francisco Bay Area, when Campbell was a child, and he attended high school there. His undergraduate work was done at Contra Costa College and San Francisco State University, where he played on the football team and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1961. Three years later, he received his Master of Arts in History from the University of California, Berkeley and taught history courses there for two years. Campbell served in the U.S. Army and California National Guard from 1961 to 1972. After teaching, he worked in the insurance industry in Richmond, becoming president and chief stockholder of a prominent company in 1980.
    His interest in politics began in college; in 1959 and 1960, he volunteered for John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign. Subsequently he worked on the election campaigns of Richmond Councilmember Ned Bates, State Assembly Member John Knox, U.S. Representative George Miller and U.S. Senator Alan Cranston. In 1975, Campbell was elected to the Richmond City Council, his first experience in elective office. During his tenure on the City Council, he served as Richmond's representative on the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) Legislative and Government Committee.
    In 1980, he won election to the California State Assembly, representing the Eleventh Assembly District. It was a heavily Democratic district, meaning that the only real contest was in the June primary, which Campbell won by a vote of 58 to 42 percent. He defeated his Republican challenger in the November general election by 68 to 23 percent; he was reelected with little or no opposition consistently for the remainder of his Assembly career. When term limits forced Campbell to retire from the Assembly in 1996, he ran for the State Senate from the Ninth Senatorial District, but lost the Democratic primary to fellow Assembly Member Barbara Lee, by 60 to 40 percent.
    Assembly Member Campbell's legislative priorities were education and environmental protection. He chaired the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education, the main subcommittee dealing with education funding, for six years (1985-1991) and served on the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee for fifteen years (1981-1995).
    The Eleventh Assembly District during Campbell's tenure was located entirely in Contra Costa County, and contained the cities of Hercules, Martinez, Pinole, Pittsburg, Richmond, and San Pablo. It was an overwhelmingly Democratic district, with voter registration ranging from 54 to 66 percent Democratic during Campbell's service in the Assembly.
    During his legislative career, Campbell served on the following committees:

    State Assembly, 1980-1996

    Standing Committees
    Agriculture, 1981-1982
    Consumer Protection and Toxic Materials, 1983-1984
    *Vice Chair, 1983-1984
    Education, 1981-1988
    Elections and Reapportionment, 1981-1982
    Health, 1996
    Higher Education, 1991-1994
    Housing and Community Development, 1995-1996
    *Vice Chair, 1996
    Policy Research Management, 1989-1990
    *Chair, 1989-1990
    Public Safety, 1985-1988
    Revenue and Taxation, 1991-1992
    Transportation, 1995-1996
    Water, Parks and Wildlife, 1981-1995
    Ways and Means, 1983-1991, 1993-1996
    Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education, 1985-1990
    *Chair, 1985-1990
    Joint Committees
    Joint Legislative Audit Committee, 1996
    *Chair, 1996
    Joint Legislative Budget Committee, 1991-1994
    Select Committees
    Select Committee on California-Mexico Affairs, 1991-1996

    Scope and Content

    The Robert J. Campbell Papers consist of 15 cubic feet of records reflecting the interests and political activities of Assembly Member Campbell during his 16 years in the California State Legislature. The records are divided into six series: bill files, subject files, correspondence, press releases, and proposed legislation files.
    The bill files are the most comprehensive series in this collection; most of them contain bill analyses from multiple committees and state agencies, proposed and enacted amendments, transcripts of committee testimony on their behalf, press releases, newspaper clippings, and correspondence.
    Prominent environmental legislation authored by Campbell included Assembly Bill 384 of the 1983-1984 session, which created a check-off field on California state income tax forms for taxpayers to contribute to the Endangered and Rare Fish, Wildlife, and Plant Species Conservation and Enhancement Account; and Assembly Bill 3270 of the 1985-1986 session, which made it easier for citizens and interest groups to petition the Fish and Game Commission to designate new plant and animal species as endangered or threatened. Feeling that environmentalists were underrepresented on the state Fish and Game Commission, Campbell authored two failed Assembly Constitutional Amendments which would have changed the structure of the Commission: ACA 44 of the 1987-1988 session, and ACA 51 of the 1989-1990 session.
    In the field of education, Campbell was particularly interested in California's higher education systems. He coauthored, with State Senator John Seymour, the Seymour-Campbell Matriculation Act of 1986, which was encompassed by Campbell's Assembly Bill 3 of 1985-1986 (available in the Campbell papers) and Seymour's Senate Bill 1171 of the same session (not available in the Campbell papers, but extensive information is contained in the AB 3 file). This legislation provided statutory authorization for community college matriculation programs, defined such programs, and set minimum standards of services for colleges choosing to provide them. In an attempt to offset budget cuts to the community college system, he authored Assembly Bill 2782 of the 1991-1992 session, which required community college students with a bachelor's degree to pay an additional $50 fee; according to Who's Who in the California Legislature, 1995-96, this legislation may have caused 60,000 students to drop out.
    Public concern over salaries and bonuses paid to University of California (UC) chancellors and administrators caused Campbell to propose Assembly Constitutional Amendment 11 in the 1993-1994 session, which would have increased legislative oversight of the UC Board of Regents, while also modifying the Board's composition and the Regents' terms of office.
    His interest in increased K-12 education funding led him to author Assembly Bill 1168 of the 1995-1996 session, a school facilities bond measure which was placed before the voters as Proposition 203 in the March 1996 statewide primary election, and passed by a margin of 62 to 38 percent. A more controversial bill regarding K-12 education was Assembly Bill 3037 of the 1981-1982 legislative session, which required those applying for teaching credentials to disclose any prior criminal history.
    Some of the most controversial issues Campbell dealt with were local concerns. His Assembly Bill 2226 of the 1981-1982 session authorized the development of a senior housing complex in El Cerrito, using private funds but on property paid for by the state; it was very controversial, and Campbell received a high volume of correspondence both in favor of and opposed to it. Also controversial was his proposal to have the state bail out the Richmond Unified School District, which was on the verge of bankruptcy, with an emergency loan; this passed and was signed into law as Assembly Bill 128 of the 1991-1992 session.
    Another area of interest for Campbell was Native American issues. In the 1981-1982 legislative session, he authored a failed proposal (Assembly Bill 3312) to classify the disturbance of Native American burial sites as a felony. More successful was his Assembly Bill 2477 of the 1989-1990 session, which reauthorized the statewide American Indian Early Childhood program, to help Native American children succeed in public schools.
    Researchers studying animal rights legislation in California may be interested in Campbell's Assembly Bill 1058 of the 1993-1994 session, which proposed banning the force-feeding of ducks to produce pate foie gras for human consumption. Although it failed to pass during Campbell's tenure, this remained a contentious issue in California for many years, and a similar bill passed in the 2003-2004 session: Senate Bill 1520 (Burton).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Campbell, Robert J.
    Environmental protection