Ex-Marine to climb Mt. Whitney for Senate bid

Some have likened waging a campaign against U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein to scaling a mountain, but one of her 23 challengers this year has chosen to take that literally.

Donald KrampeDonald Krampe, a Republican from Murrieta, plans to climb Mt. Whitney – the lower 48’s highest summit – next week in order to call attention to his campaign.

And that’s no small feat for most people, much less for an 83-year-old like Krampe.

“The climb is on – I’m leaving here on the 22nd for Lone Pine and will start the climb on the 23rd,” Krampe said Friday, noting he’ll bear a banner noting his campaign website, the mountain’s elevation, and the slogan, “Don Krampe tops summit and stomps D. Feinstein’s TV blitz.”

“I’m just doing what I was taught in the Marine Corps,” said the veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars – thinking outside the box when faced with daunting odds. “I needed to do something to get some kind of name recognition because I don’t have the kind of money to throw into TV ads.”

For the sake of Bay Area voters – of whom he used to be one, while working for the Mt. Diablo YMCA and later for the U.S. Treasury in San Francisco – Krampe notes that Mt. Diablo rises 3,864 feet above sea level while Mt. Whitney’s latest measure is 14,505 feet. (However, the campsite from which he’ll make his ascent is at about 10,000 feet.)

Other numbers to consider: Only Krampe and one other Senate candidate are older than Feinstein, 78; the other is Atherton Republican Greg Conlon, 79.

“I have to tell you that’s one of the cleverest things I’ve ever seen,” admitted Bill Carrick, Feinstein’s campaign consultant. “If he’s in good enough shape to do it, that’s fabulous.”

Mt. Whitney“Having done Mt. Whitney myself, I know it’s gorgeous, beautiful and very tough, particularly when you get up at the higher elevations, it’s very steep. I hope he has a good group of people going with him and they’re well-prepared.”

Krampe offered assurances that he’s in good shape and has had a pre-emptive medical checkup: “Everything is A-OK.”

Krampe said he’s running for the Senate because most people he talks to are fed up with Washington’s acrimony and special interests, and Feinstein isn’t doing enough to create jobs and grow the economy.

His website says he would seek federal funding for improvements to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach so they can process more freight, and develop a plan for local governments to host job fairs. He wants to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan as soon as possible, and reallocate money from the war to domestic priorities such as highways, education and enforcement of laws against illegal immigration; on the latter issue, he says he favors a path to citizenship for those already here but opposes giving college grants to children of illegal immigrants.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Freak of the far Right

    Nice story. But a campaign stunt, He has no chance of winning. This is just an ego trip for an interesting octogenarian.

    Good luck on Mt. Whitney Man!!

  • JohnW

    I understand that, in the spirit of bipartisanship, Sherpa Pete Stark will accompany him to the summit.

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    I voted for a Republican because D.F. has been in politics entirely to long. Not this Republican, He is to old. Isn’t Mount Whitney covered in snow this time of year? Don’t we have enough politicians with bad ideas? Like Senator D.F. with a handgun in her purse, while touting gun control.