Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio, a 39-year-old San Diego Republican, is worried about what he deems the single biggest issue facing state and local governments today: a pension tsunami. As a city council member, DeMaio authored the San Diego Pension Reform Initiative, which was voted into law in 2012. At the time, San Diego faced outsize public pension costs and a $2.2 billion pension deficit. Approved by two thirds of the voters, the initiative aligns new public employee pensions with local private sector pension benchmarks through 401(k)-type plans. Since February 2012 organized labor has tried and failed three times to derail the proposition through the courts. After an unsuccessful bid to become mayor of San Diego, DeMaio, who resigned from the city council last December, has set his sights on the U.S. House of Representatives. A June poll by a local TV station put him 9 points ahead of the incumbent Democrat, Scott Peters. DeMaio says that if hes elected in November 2014, hell keep working to overhaul state and municipal pension funds by challenging federal regulations that hamper local pension reform. Popular with the political right, he advises other municipal and state lawmakers on retirement reforms, both directly and through the Reason Foundation, a Los Angelesbased libertarian think tank. In February he published a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece outlining the role Congress should play in reforming state and local pensions.
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