Campbell, a law professor who has taught at Stanford, U.C.-Berkley and Chapman University, says his views on education have been informed by his experience in the classroom.
"When the economy revives, I would like very much to see the additional money going to K-12 in the form of lower class size," Campbell said. "I've been a classroom teacher for 26 years. I'm a much better teacher, the smaller the class."
In addition to smaller classes, Campbell supports giving principals more authority to monitor teacher performance, offer incentive pay and layoff teachers, if necessary.
"The devolution of authority to the principal level is the most predictive improvement element in schools, next is the class size," said Campbell, who has been influenced by the work of UCLA Prof. Bill Ouchi, author of "Making Schools Work."
Campbell, who was brought into Schwarzenegger's camp by former Reagan administration Secretary of State George Shultz, said his year as finance director taught him the ins and outs of the state budget.
"Even as a state senator, I never fully understood how cyclical our revenue was," Campbell said.
To cope with the state's volatile revenue base, Campbell is proposing that the state should put itself on a 10-year path toward raising revenue one year, letting it earn interest and spending it the next year.
"There would never again be any doubt about how much money we would have to spend," Campbell said.
Going forward, Campbell sees prisons as an area where the state can save money.
"Prisons should be for violent criminals and for the non-violent who break the conditions of their parole," he said. "The means of electronic monitoring are now so advanced in our state that we ought to be relying on them a lot more."
When it comes to social issues, Campbell describes himself as having "strong Libertarian tendencies."
He thinks "gay people should have the same rights as straight people, including the right to marry" and that "a woman should make the choice on abortion up until the time of viability."
While Campbell is the lone Schwarzenegger ally on Proposition 1A among the 2010 Republican candidates for governor, the former Ph.D. student of Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago is not shy about disagreeing with his former boss on economic regulation.
"Gov. Schwarzenegger has less suspicion of large government than I do; I think that's a fair comment," Campbell said. "Whereas I agree with him on the need for infrastructure, he has been very willing to regulate industry, including in a particular area, regarding global warming.
"We have now created a state system whereby local zoning decisions must have a component of what it does to global warming," said Campbell, referring to last year's global warming zoning bill. "We are desperately in need of manufacturing jobs in California. We appear to have regulated them so heavily that they go to other states."
Campbell's biggest obstacle in the 2010 race, according to GOP strategists, is money: Whitman and Poizner are both multi-millionaires who can self-finance their own campaigns.
To overcome his better-funded rivals, Campbell is counting on the power of the Web as a fund-raising tool as well as the dynamics of a three-person race.
"A three-way race is exceptionally more achievable," Campbell said.