Ian Calderon is the latest family hopeful in California's longest-running legislative dynasty and fundraising fliers hammer that point home.
"Please Join Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon in supporting Ian Calderon" at a lunch reception in Sacramento's Tequila Mayahuel restaurant, one flier said. Tickets cost $1,300 to $3,900.
Father and son are pictured together in the flier, smiling, the young college graduate and the lame duck Democratic lawmaker whose presence helps boost campaign coffers.
Few 26-year-old novices wield such clout. Ian Calderon's race against former Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez will be watched closely as an example of the power of family incumbency, analysts say.
"You have name recognition, you have resources," Phillip Ung of California Common Cause, which has taken no position on the race, said of Ian's candidacy and family ties.
For 30 years, a member of the Calderon family has held a legislative seat.
Charles is the second-highest ranking member of the Assembly. His brother Ron is a state senator and another brother, Tom, is a former assemblyman running to return to the lower house. All are Los Angeles County Democrats.
The Calderons are known as moderate Democrats with a pro-business bent. Charles said the reputation can be a mixed blessing for example, though Ian is very pro-union, some labor groups have been slow to endorse him, he said.
Charles Calderon, who began his legislative career eight years before term limits were imposed in 1990, was a member of the "Gang of Five" that tried to unseat then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown in a failed 1980s coup. He later moved to the Senate and became its majority leader. He left the Legislature in 1998 and returned in 2006.
Tom Calderon, an assemblyman from 1998 to 2002, is perhaps best known for helping lead a successful drive to clean up contaminated groundwater in the San Gabriel Valley. Ron Calderon is a key Democrat on business legislation and chairs the Senate Insurance Committee.
Ian, a former state collegiate surfing champion, is a Hacienda Heights resident running for an Assembly seat that stretches from South El Monte to La Mirada.
Capitol interests from labor groups to insurance firms have poured money into Ian's campaign. His $214,000 in contributions through March 17 outpaced Bermudez's fundraising by more than 2-to-1, records show.
More than half of Ian Calderon's largest contributors through March 17 13 of 22 donors of $3,900 or more were previous donors to his father, records show.
"They're not donating to (Ian) necessarily, they're donating to the family," said Bob Stern, an attorney and political analyst.
Charles countered that Ian will be judged individually by donors and voters.
"I maybe beg and get token support," Charles said of fundraising. "But he has to go and convince them that he's real and that he's a candidate. It's on him."
Ian's political consultant, Richie Ross, ran his father's first Assembly campaign. Ian's stepmother, Lisa, has been paid $5,000 by the campaign for consulting services.
Leslie Rodriguez, Ian's campaign director, is Charles Calderon's sister-in-law, and her résumé includes stints as his district coordinator and as a key consultant in his 2006 campaign.
Despite his high-powered team, Ian has stumbled from time to time: He failed to report outside income received from Charles Calderon's campaign funds in 2010 and 2011, for example, requiring him last month to amend disclosure statements filed last year.
Ian is paid about $50,000 a year as a legislative aide, and he also has received more than $47,000 for Web consulting from his father's campaign coffers since 2009.
Besides income, Ian has benefited politically from his dad. Charles and his son traveled to Hawaii in November 2010, for example, for a policy conference in which legislators and key Capitol interest groups combine public policy discussions with fun-in-the-sun mingling in a tropical paradise. Ian paid his own tab, Charles said.
Ian describes himself as part of a new activist generation.
"I'm surely proud of my family, but at the end of the day, what they've done is what they've done," he said. "I'm going to be measured on what I do."
Charles said his son will benefit from having never held public office before. "That's what we need more of not party loyalty, not stakeholder loyalty, but loyalty to the people," he said.
Though perhaps best known, the Calderons are not the only Capitol family.
Stanislaus County Republican brothers Bill and Tom Berryhill hold seats in the Assembly and Senate, respectively, as do Rocklin Republican Beth Gaines and her husband, Ted.
Patricia McKeon, wife of Republican Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, is running for an Assembly seat in the Santa Clarita Valley.
"It's really tough to go against a dynasty, as long as it's well regarded," Stern said.
"The concern is, are they freezing out other capable people," he said. "Is it just sort of becoming royalty as opposed to (true competition?)"
Ian, on his website, says he is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, where he was captain of the school surf team.
Ian said he later worked as a marketing director for a clothing firm, Hurley; and formed a company to represent athletes primarily surfer Travis Mellem in contract talks and sponsorships. He reported no income from either venture in the year preceding his hiring by the Legislature at age 24.
Shortly after becoming a legislative aide, Ian said, he decided to make politics his career after helping secure benefits for a frustrated, laid-off, single mother of two. "That's when I knew I had made the right choice," Ian said.
Ian's ballot designation, "legislative field deputy," stems from his work since July 2010 for the Assembly. He is on leave from the staff of Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Gardena.
Charles Calderon said he did not pull strings to get his son the state job, but quipped, "I gave him a good reference."