Bill Simon (politician)

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Bill Simon
Bill Simon.jpg
Personal details
William Edward Simon Jr.

(1951-06-20) June 20, 1951 (age 70)
Neptune, New Jersey, US
Political partyRepublican
EducationWilliams College (BA)
Boston College (JD)

William Edward Simon Jr. (born June 20, 1951) is an American businessman and politician. In 2002, Simon campaigned unsuccessfully for Governor of California as a Republican against Democratic incumbent Gray Davis. Billed as a "conservative Republican," the virtually unknown Simon's campaign was significantly boosted by support from better-known Republican officeholders from outside California, including former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.


Simon was born in Neptune, New Jersey, the son of Carol (Girard) and William E. Simon Sr., the 63rd Secretary of the Treasury under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Simon Sr., also served as director of the Federal Energy Office.[1] Coincidentally, Simon was a childhood friend of former Democratic party chair Howard Dean.

Simon earned a BA from Williams College in 1973, and a JD from Boston College in 1982. At Boston College Law School, "Billy" Simon was widely popular and respected. He was a Moot Court Champion and represented the school in national moot court competitions. From 1986 to 1988, Simon served as Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, working under then-U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani.

In 1988, Simon co-founded William E. Simon & Sons, a global merchant bank, with his father and brother.[1] Simon managed the family business (which has over $3 billion in assets), as the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and as a trustee for The Heritage Foundation.[1] Simon also chairs the William E. Simon Foundation.[1] Simon has contributed some of his personal resources to assist less fortunate youths through educational scholarships and beautification of California schools.[1]

2002 California gubernatorial election[edit]

Simon with his wife, George Radanovich, Dave Cogdill, and Chuck Poochigian in September 2002


Simon won the Republican nomination in the primary election of March 2002. Some credit Simon's primary win to incumbent Governor Gray Davis' preemptive campaign against Simon's major primary opponent, former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, a moderate Republican, whom Davis considered a more formidable opponent. At the beginning of the campaign Riordan had higher name recognition and popularity than any other gubernatorial candidate. In fact Riordan began attacking Davis early on in the primaries, as if he already had the GOP nomination, which is what prompted the counter-attack, according to Garry South, Davis' campaign manager.

Simon's come-from-behind win reflected both the GOP's dissatisfaction with Riordan's inability to appeal to the GOP base (he had publicly insulted George Deukmejian, California's most popular Republican governor since Ronald Reagan, and it was revealed that he had supported Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein with campaign contributions) and support for Simon's straight-conservative image.[2] Both Riordan and Simon are Roman Catholics and Knights of Malta, with Riordan pro-choice on abortion and Simon pro-life.[citation needed]

Simon polled 1,129,973 primary votes (49.4 percent) to Riordan's 715,768 (31.3 percent). Another 387,237 ballots (16.9 percent) were cast for Bill Jones, then the California secretary of state.


Davis's campaign advertisements made heavy use of scandals relating to alleged mismanagement of Simon's business and charities, though one of the major court rulings unfavorable to Simon was since overturned.

Simon's campaign centered largely on allegations of corruption in the incumbent's administration, and Davis's handling of the 2001 energy crisis.

Immediately after the gubernatorial debate against Gray Davis, Simon accused Davis of receiving campaign funds in the Lt. Governor's office, a felony. Simon distributed a photo of Davis being handed a check and insisted that the picture was taken in the Lt. Governor's office in the State capitol. Within an hour of its release the location in the picture was determined to have no resemblance to the Lt. Governor's office, and within a few days the location was identified as Bruce Karatz's home in Southern California.[3]

Despite Davis's high disapproval ratings, he managed to defeat Simon by a margin of 47.3% of the vote to Simon's 42.4%.[4][5][6]

After gubernatorial campaign[edit]

When the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election became a reality, Simon announced he would once again be a candidate for California Governor but ran for only a short time after he qualified for the ballot before withdrawing from the race August 23, 2003.

He said, "There are too many Republicans in this race and the people of our state simply cannot risk a continuation of the Gray Davis legacy." Simon did not endorse any candidates until several weeks later, when he endorsed front-runner Arnold Schwarzenegger. Despite dropping out, his name still appeared in the ballot, and he placed 12th in a field of 135 candidates.

Simon spent most of 2004 and 2005 preparing to run for California state treasurer in 2006, and although he was the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination, he dropped out in October 2005 citing the need to devote more time and attention to his family and four children. He is currently married to Cindy Simon, and together they have three children, Willie, Lindsay, and Griffith. They live in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, and have a vacation home on Maui and one in Sun Valley, Idaho. He also has a daughter, Cary, from his first marriage.

On February 26, 2007, he was appointed as the Director of Policy for the Rudy Giuliani presidential exploratory committee.[7] Simon was the most influential member of the Giuliani campaign, and was referred to many times as Giuliani's "Professor."


  1. ^ a b c d e Move over Gray Davis...
  2. ^ Primary Day What Riordan did wrong
  3. ^ Simon's attack on Davis backfires / 'Evidence' photo isn't clear proof of illegal donation
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 1, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Office of the California Secretary of State. "Statement of Vote, 2002 General Election, Governor by County," (retrieved on March 30, 2009).
  5. ^ Lynda Gledhill, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau (July 11, 2002). "Davis ekes out 7-point lead over Simon Field Poll shows voters against hopeful rather than for governor". Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  6. ^ Robert Salladay; Chronicle Political Writer (November 6, 2002). "Big challenges ahead for not-exactly-popular incumbent". Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  7. ^ Join Rudy Archived March 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine February 26, 2007.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dan Lungren
Republican nominee for Governor of California
Succeeded by
Arnold Schwarzenegger