For former Gov. Pete Wilson, this campaign is personal: It’s about his reputation

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For a time, no California politician was more formidable than Republican Pete Wilson.

Over two decades, the popular former San Diego mayor enjoyed a record of nearly unbroken success, besting Gov. Jerry Brown in 1982 to seize a U.S. Senate seat and toppling San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein eight years later to win the governorship. He served in Sacramento during a time of epic upheaval, staring down a massive budget deficit and a series of biblical natural disasters: drought, earthquakes, fire, floods.

Now, at 83, he is waging what amounts to his final campaign — and certainly his most personal — an effort to shape how he’ll best be recollected.

By most accounts, Wilson was quite successful during eight years as governor, leaving the state in better shape than he found it, though he takes issue with that assessment. “No,” he said, “a hell of a lot better.”


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