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California Lt. Governor Race Candidates Compete For Voters' Attention

SAN FRANCISCO  (KPIX 5) -- Big bucks are being spent on California's Lieutenant Governor's race.

Big names, big money and big issues along with sweeping views and humble stories are all playing their part in the crowded June race for Lt. Governor.

The new TV commercials even include one where a candidate dresses like Elvis.

Candidate Jeff Bleich's ad states, "He served President Obama as special counsel and ambassador."

Eleni Kounalakis's ad states that she "will fight expanded offshore drilling and protect our air, water and coast line."

Lydia Ortega's ad points out that she's "an economist and professor."

Ed Hernandez' ad states, "Because I believe that every story matters."

At $147,000 salary, the job pays less than half of what the mayor of San Francisco makes, and has no real power on its own.

Even current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom once wondered if the job had any real purpose.

Nonetheless, ten people including two former ambassadors, a state senator and a former mayor of Richmond are in the running. And they say it's worth it.

The candidates are: Jeff Bleich, Eleni Kounalakis, Ed Hernandez, Gayle McLaughlin, Lydia Ortega, Cameron Gharabiklou, David Fennell, Cole Harris, Tim Ferreira and Danny Thomas.

Bleich said, "You are on Lands Commission, Jobs Protection Counsel, Coastal Commission…"

Kounalakis pointed to the position's voting powers at "the CSU and the UC."

In fact, listening to candidates, one of the main themes is higher education.

"I'm going to fight tooth and nail for lowering the expense of higher education," Kounalakis said.

Orgeta said, "I can make a difference because I know how education is constructed."

Hernandez pointed to the impact the position can have on, among other things, "...the water issues in the Central Valley."

Kounalakis' ad states, "As your Lt. Governor, I'll make sure California's coast is never for sale."

Bleich said, "To be the number two person in the fifth largest economy in the world, I think it's a pretty important job."

Right now, however, the biggest challenge for all of the candidates is just getting voters' attention.

Lawyer and former ambassador Bleich's ad shows him dressed up as Elvis.

"I don't know how they got ahold of that photo, but I'm going to have to live with that for the rest of my life," Bleich said.

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