National conservative leaders rally behind Eastman

Chris Rizo Feb. 22, 2010, 12:55am

John Eastman (R)

Jerry Brown (D)

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline)-Jack Pitney, a leading authority on California politics, had it right last month when he foretold that Republican state attorney general hopeful John Eastman's candidacy would attract support from leaders of the nation's conservative movement.

Eastman, the former dean of Chapman University's Law School, just weeks ago jumped into the race to succeed Democrat Jerry Brown as California's chief legal officer.

The respected constitutional scholar and leader in the Federalist Society seems to be generating a wave of support not only in California but outside the Golden State, as Pitney told Legal Newsline he would.

This evening, conservative leaders in Washington are hosting a fundraiser to help Eastman win the Republican attorney general primary.

The event at the Capitol Hill Club is being hosted by former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett and U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Tom McClintock, R-Calif., among other noted conservatives.

The suggested minimum contribution to hobnob with Eastman and friends: $250.

"My native state of California has suffered so much from attorney general Jerry Brown's malfeasance that I am especially delighted by the news that constitutional law scholar John Eastman has declared his candidacy for state attorney general," M. Edward Whelan III, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said in a blog posting advertising the Eastman fundraiser.

Eastman, before being appointed dean of Chapman's law school in 2007, was director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, a public interest law firm affiliated with the Claremont Institute, a conservative Southern California think tank.

He earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1995. He has a Ph.D. in government from the Claremont Graduate School. Eastman, 49, has never held public office. He served as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative voice on the nation's high court.

In an interview last month, Pitney, a former Republican policy analyst and now a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, said Eastman "has a good chance of rallying the Republican base," noting that he "is very well regarded in the conservative intellectual community."

Also vying for the Republican AG nomination is state Sen. Tom Harman of Huntington Beach. Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley is considering a run for attorney general.

On the Democratic side a crowded field running, including Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico of Newark, Assemblyman Pedro Nava of Santa Barbara, Assemblyman Ted Lieu of Torrance, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and Chris Kelly, chief privacy officer for the Web site Facebook.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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