At the California Republican Party’s convention earlier this month, chairman Jim Brulte announced 2014 would be the year of “pushing the party outside of its comfort zone,” and introduced four candidates vying to take on incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown in November.
One of those candidates may be way outside that comfort zone -- a businessman, who also is a registered sex offender who served a decade in prison for voluntary manslaughter.
Glenn Champ, who is listed as an “engineer and businessman” on the state election website, has a lengthy rap sheet. He was nabbed for picking up an underage prostitute in 1993, which resulted in him pleading guilty to two counts of assault with intent to commit rape and becoming a registered sex offender.
In 1998, Champ also pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter. An Associated Press article at the time said authorities accused Champ of running over a competitor in the garbage collection business with his truck after an argument, killing him. Champ told FoxNews.com the incident was a "tragic accident."
He received 12 years in prison and says he served 10 and three-quarters before he was released in 2009.
Champ is now running against several established politicians and government officials for the GOP nomination, including Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount, ex-Treasury official Neel Kashkari and state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly. Despite his past, he stood alongside them and delivered a 10-minute speech at the GOP convention.
Champ, though, says he's a changed man. He told FoxNews.com that during his time in prison both his faith in God and his love of politics grew. He said he knows how to effectively deal with lawmakers he claims are violating the political system and the Constitution, because of his time in jail.
“My past is good, it's bad and it’s ugly,” Champ said. “I don’t have any problems with people scrutinizing it.” But, he added, “You should also look past it and see what I’ve learned.”
Champ said he is running on a campaign that promotes “American Christian values,” supporting tax breaks for businesses and gun rights and opposing same-sex marriage and abortion “99 percent of the time.” Champ said these issues are what California voters should be focusing on.
“They shouldn’t dwell on my past. They should be looking at the future of California and what I can do,” he said.
Champ also addressed his stance on issues that hit close to home -- namely, California's treatment of registered sex offenders. He said he is fine with requirements that say he and others must register every year with law enforcement, but opposes the online sex offender registry enacted in 2004 as part of Megan's Law. He said the Megan's Law registry is "counterproductive to society," as it creates a fear in the public and prevents registered sex offenders from becoming productive citizens.
As a registered sex offender, Champ is required to register with local law enforcement annually but says he personally has no restrictions on travel. He also is not allowed to live within 2,000 feet of a school or park.
A spokesman for the California Republican Party told FoxNews.com that they are aware of Champ’s past, but the party is required to remain neutral during the primary and opened the speaking opportunity to all candidates who have filed with the state. He said it will be up to the voters whether Champ is worthy of being their nominee.
However, the immediate former chairman of the state Republican Party Tom Del Beccaro did not mince words. He said while an open primary is good overall, it does allow candidates like Champ to slip through the cracks.
"That doesn’t make them a serious candidate and doesn’t mean they represent the constituency or the view of the Republican Party," he told FoxNews.com.
His competitors also raised eyebrows at Champ’s campaign.
Blount told FoxNews.com Champ’s candidacy is indicative of the problems with the state GOP; namely that officials do not pay enough attention to statewide races. He said he found out Champ was a sex offender the first time he searched his name in Google, but worries voters won’t do the same.
“There will be people who will vote for him without any idea what he stands for,” he said.
Donnelly, for his part, dismissed the notion that Champ is a serious contender.
“The only sex offenders I'm worried about are the one's (sic) that Jerry Brown has let out of prison with his early release program,” he said in a statement to FoxNews.com.
Any GOP challenger to Brown has an uphill climb. The Democratic governor enjoys an approval rating of 58 percent, according to a December poll, and has about $17 million banked for his campaign, dwarfing the fundraising of any GOP contender. Champ has not yet filed a campaign finance report with the state.