“She’s a politician,” Costa, a former state senator, told the Los Angeles Times. “Now she’s trying to become an elected politician.” Costa had worked in the state legislature for over 20 years. He wrote and introduced the legislative version of what would later become the state’s notorious “three-strikes” law, aimed at imposing harsher sentences for crimes. Quigley was a 38-year-old Capitol Hill staffer and mother.
Late in the race, when the candidates were neck-and-neck in fundraising, the real estate industry dumped more than $270,000 in radio and TV ads for Costa. As a state senator, Costa had led the effort to ban most kinds of rent control in California. The disastrous 1995 law, known as the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, strictly limits the rent control policies cities and countries can impose, incentivizes evictions, and is widely blamed for contributing to California’s affordable housing crisis. “We’re certainly doing our best to see Senator Costa wins,” the vice president of the National Association of Realtors, Steve Cook, said at the time.