All three Democrats vying for the party’s nomination for lieutenant governor insist they won’t emulate the man who now holds the office, fellow Democrat Cruz Bustamante. The position may be historically impotent, they acknowledge, but they promise actually to do something meaningful with the office, unlike Bustamante, who all but disappeared from the scene. And while all are sincere in this idealistic belief, state Sen. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, seems the most likely to live up to it. Recognizing that the lieutenant governor is a regent of the University of California and a trustee of the California State University system, she promises to be both a champion and watchdog for California higher education. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Speier’s rivals seem less well-focused. State Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont, talks about seeking the office to be a role model for the state’s children. And term-limited Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi speaks eloquently about using the post to fight global warming and other important issues – noble goals, to be sure, but hardly within the purview of the lieutenant governor’s responsibilities. With financial scandal in the UC and a chronic lack of funding for community colleges, the state could use a higher-ed ombudsman. And it’s a realistic, important role a Lieutenant Gov. Speier could fill. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!