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Petewilson2008.jpgFormer California Gov. Pete Wilson endorsed GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney today and will serve as the candidate's honorary chairman in California, the Romney campaign announced

In a statement, Romney called Wilson "one of California's most accomplished leaders." Wilson, governor from 1991 to 1999, said Romney "is an enthusiastic believer in American exceptionalism and has been a spectacular example of it: Mitt has been a success in creating American private sector jobs, a success as the rescuer of the Salt Lake City Olympic games, and as a public chief executive as the Republican governor in the challenging environment of heavily Democratic Massachusetts."

Wilson critics immediately trashed the choice. Eliseo Medina, international secretary treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, said Romney's association with Wilson will hurt him with Latino voters.

"Mitt Romney can't leave well enough alone," Medina said in a statement. "Romney can't seem to stop himself from digging deeper and deeper into his hole with Latino voters. Here is what Pete Wilson accomplished: He turned Latino voters against the GOP brand."

Wilson championed Proposition 187 in 1994, a measure -- later overturned by the courts -- that restricted state services to undocumented immigrants.

PHOTO CREDIT: Former California Gov. Pete Wilson give a thumbs up while looking at his PDA during the start of the Republican National Convention in 2008. Brian Baer/The Sacramento Bee


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