Bill Jones (California politician)

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Bill Jones
Bill Jones of California.jpg
25th Secretary of State of California
In office
January 2, 1995 – January 6, 2003
GovernorPete Wilson
Gray Davis
Preceded byTony Miller
Succeeded byKevin Shelley
Minority Leader of the California Assembly
In office
July 17, 1991 – November 4, 1992
Preceded byRoss Johnson
Succeeded byJim Brulte
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 29th district
In office
December 7, 1992 - November 30, 1994
Preceded byAndrea Seastrand
Succeeded byChuck Poochigian
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 32nd district
In office
December 6, 1982 - November 30, 1992
Preceded byGordon W. Duffy
Succeeded byTrice Harvey
Personal details
William Leon Jones

(1949-12-20) December 20, 1949 (age 71)
Coalinga, California, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Maurine (m. 1971)

William Leon Jones (born December 20, 1949) is an American politician from California who served in the California State Assembly and later served as California's 25th Secretary of State. He was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Governor of California in 2002 as well as an unsuccessful candidate for the United States Senate from California in 2004 against incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer.

Early life[edit]

Born in Coalinga, California, Jones earned his bachelor's degree in agribusiness and plant sciences from California State University, Fresno in 1971.

Member of the California State Assembly[edit]

In 1976, Jones began his political career with an unsuccessful run for the 31st District State Assembly seat against then State Senate aide and future Congressman Richard H. Lehman. Lehman defeated Jones by just under ten points and went on to represent the Fresno-based Assembly district for six years before being elected to the U.S. House. Jones spent those six years working as a farmer.

After the redistricting of 1982, Jones again sought a seat in the state legislature. This time, Jones soundly defeated Democrat Clyde Gould for California's 32nd Assembly District seat. Jones easily won reelection five times, carrying at least 69% of the vote in each election and twice running unopposed for the seat. Jones served in the Assembly from 1982 to 1994.

Proposition 184[edit]

One of Jones's most notable contributions while in the Assembly was authoring Proposition 184, California's three-strikes law, which passed with 72%. In 2000, 61% of California voters supported Proposition 36, which scaled the three-strikes law back by supporting drug treatment instead of life in prison for many convicted of possessing drugs. During the November 2004 elections, Proposition 66, which would have further limited California's three-strikes law, was voted down at the polls by 53% of the voters.

Assembly leadership[edit]

For years, Jones was an intra-party adversary of Assembly Republican Leader Ross Johnson, and nearly ousted him from the party leadership. After authoring Proposition 184, Jones was elected the Assembly Republican Leader in 1991. In that capacity, Jones worked with the newly elected Republican Governor Pete Wilson, supporting Wilson's plans to limit gerrymandering and raise taxes to cut the budget deficit. Due to more competitive districts, Republicans expected large gains in the 1992 election. However, the coattails of Democratic Presidential nominee Bill Clinton and the general strength of the Democratic Party in California led to disappointing results for Republican candidates. After the Republicans' weak showing in the November 1992 elections, Jones stepped down as Republican Leader, despite having easily won re-election in his own district.

California Secretary of State[edit]

Jones left the State Assembly after being elected Secretary of State, serving two terms in that office from 1995 to 2003. As the state's chief elections officer, Jones stated his goal was "100 percent participation but zero tolerance for voter fraud".

Use of the Internet was another priority of Jones's during his tenure as Secretary of State. In 2000, his office drafted a report stating that "California citizens should be online- not in line." His plan called for putting 90% of government services online by the expiration of his term while also "taking important steps toward closing the Digital Divide to ensure no Californians are left behind." Through use of technology, the Secretary of State's office registered or reregistered over 9 million voters, while purging 3 million ineligible voters from the rolls.

Jones was the first California Secretary of State to place campaign finance information on the Internet. In addition to providing instant Internet access to campaign finance reports, Jones launched the nation's first Internet site that carried live election returns on Election Day. Following the 2000 presidential election, Jones developed a 10-point election reform plan to modernize voting systems used in California. The plan was soon adopted as a national model for other states to use.[citation needed] However, it was controversial for allowing for wide and open adoption of Internet and electronic vote technology with many private vendors competing [1] and few or no technical safeguards in common.

Role in suppressing vote pairing in October 2000[edit]

During his tenure as California's Secretary of State, Jones may have played a role in the outcome of the 2000 presidential election, when he charged that vote pairing Internet web sites were illegal. Many of these web sites were hosted in California, and were shut down by October 31 after Jones threatened their creators with criminal prosecution.[2]

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) got involved to protect the web sites, seeking a restraining order, followed by a permanent injunction, against Jones, alleging that he had violated the constitutional rights of the web site creators. The issue could be resolved only after the 2000 election had already occurred. Later, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the legality of vote pairing.

Run for California Governor[edit]

In 2002, Jones ran in the Republican gubernatorial primary, finishing third, with 16%, behind former Mayor of Los Angeles Richard Riordan and businessman William Simon, Jr., who went on to be defeated by incumbent Gray Davis in the general election.

Jones' campaign largely addressed issues of budget deficits, electrical shortages, and perceived corruption in the Davis administration. Building on his success promoting technology as Secretary of State, Jones's platform contained an eGovernment plank. However, much of his campaign concentrated on his past experience and support from state Republican luminaries like former Governor George Deukmejian, as opposed to specific plans for addressing the state's budget and energy crises.

E-mail spamming controversy[edit]

During his unsuccessful primary campaign, Jones' campaign manager drew criticism for spamming (sending bulk emails to) potential voters and others around the world.[3] After the spamming incidents, Jones spokesman Darrel Ng denied spamming was wrong and strongly defended the use of mass email for campaigns as an "innovative way to use the Internet."[4] The hosting provider of the Jones campaign web site terminated its services for the last few days of the campaign.[5]

Run for U.S. Senate[edit]

Following his unsuccessful run for governor in 2002, Jones tried a run for the U.S. Senate. Although he won the 2004 Republican primary over former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, Jones lost the general election to Senator Barbara Boxer, with 38% of the vote. His campaign was so ill-funded that he did not run a single television commercial to promote his candidacy.

Career after public office[edit]

As Secretary of State, Jones had been responsible for regulating the voting-related services of private companies. After leaving office, he became a paid consultant to one of those companies, Sequoia Voting Systems.[6]

Election results[edit]

Year Office Election Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1976 California State Assembly, District 31 General Bill Jones Republican 44,655 44.4% Richard H. Lehman Democratic 54,004 53.7%
1982 California State Assembly, District 32 General Bill Jones Republican 60,744 61.7% Clyde Gould Democratic 37,700 38.3%
1984 California State Assembly, District 32 General Bill Jones Republican 87,555 75.0% Robert Dahlstedt Democratic 29,206 25%
1986 California State Assembly, District 32 General Bill Jones Republican 70,825 100% None
1988 California State Assembly, District 32 General Bill Jones Republican 87,483 72.6% Aden Windham Democratic 33,081 27.4%
1990 California State Assembly, District 32 General Bill Jones Republican 71,592 68.8% Bernie McGoldrick Democratic 32,457 31.2%
1992 California State Assembly, District 29 General Bill Jones Republican 122,464 100% None
1994 California Secretary of State General Bill Jones Republican 3,727,894 45.3% Tony Miller Democratic 3,690,841 44.8%
1998 California Secretary of State General Bill Jones Republican 3,783,665 47.0% Michela Alioto-Pier Democratic 3,693,927 45.9%
2002 Governor of California Primary Bill Jones Republican 387,237 17.0% Bill Simon Republican 1,129,974 49.5%
2004 U.S. Senate General Bill Jones Republican 4,548,931 37.8% Barbara Boxer Democratic 6,947,021 57.7%


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Biever, Celeste. "Voters empowered by internet swap shop" New Scientist (April 30, 2005)
  3. ^ "Use of spam in campaign spurs debate", San Jose Mercury News, Apr. 4, 2002.
    "Candidate: Spam in Every Pot", Wired News, Mar. 1, 2002.
    "Confirmed: California wannabe Bill Jones is a recidivist spammer", Declan McCullagh's Politech, Feb. 28, 2002 Archived June 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
    details on Bill Jones' website being kicked off by his ISP. by Ronald F. Guilmette,, Mar. 4, 2002.
  4. ^ "Free speech or campaign spam?", cnet news, March 4, 2002.
  5. ^ "Bill Jones campaign hit for e-mail spam. Web site closed by irk Internet provider", San Francisco Chronicle, Mar. 2, 2002.
  6. ^ Oakley, Freddie; John Oakley (November 23, 2003). "Electronic Voting: Can We Trust It?". Yolo County, California Elections Office. Archived from the original on September 29, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]

California Assembly
Preceded by
Gordon W. Duffy
California State Assemblymember
32nd District
December 6, 1982 - November 30, 1992
Succeeded by
Trice Harvey
Preceded by
Andrea Seastrand
California State Assemblymember
29th District
December 7, 1992 - November 30, 1994
Succeeded by
Chuck Poochigian
Political offices
Preceded by
Tony Miller
California Secretary of State
January 3, 1995 – January 7, 2003
Succeeded by
Kevin Shelley
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ross Johnson
California State Assembly Republican Leader
July 17, 1991 – November 4, 1992
Succeeded by
Jim Brulte
Preceded by
Matt Fong
Republican Party nominee for United States Senator from California (Class 3)
Succeeded by
Carly Fiorina