The Lincoln Club, Orange County's most influential and wealthiest GOP volunteer organization, is going to stay out of the 1986 primary battle for the party's lieutenant-governor nomination, despite the probability that county Supervisor Bruce Nestande will be a favorite-son candidate.
"The problem is that we don't know yet who else is going to run," said Lincoln Club co-founder and president Coalson Morris. "And the club, historically, does not become involved in the primaries."
Morris said individual club members will support Nestande, but he added that he has no "reading" of how many of them or of the extent of that support.
The Lincoln Club, most of whose members are wealthy business people or middle-level corporate executives, spent $169,560 on a variety of political campaigns in 1984, and nearly twice that much in 1982.
The club's influence can be measured, in part, by the fact that private, closed-door meetings with its members are considered a must by Republicans running for statewide office.
Gov. George Deukmejian has a private dinner with the Lincoln Club in the county on his schedule for March 20.
Meanwhile, Nestande said last week he has received substantial encouragement from Lincoln Club members, but is not yet seeking or accepting money for a campaign. He said he may be ready for such activities "in about six weeks."
Nestande has scheduled a $250-per-person fund-raising reception at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach on April 2.
Nestande said Monday he will use the money not for a lieutenant-governor campaign, but for ongoing political expenses incurred as a supervisor.
"I'm not saying that if I run for lieutenant governor and it's down to the wire and I'm $50,000 short that I wouldn't consider tapping those funds," he said, "but I don't plan to use it for that. I just don't think it will be that big of a fund to draw on, and I'm planning to set up a separate account if I do the lieutenant-governor thing."
State law permits Nestande to use any funds left over from his supervisor campaign to run for statewide office. As a supervisor, Nestande would not be up for reelection until 1988.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, the state GOP chairman, is also considering entering the race for lieutenant governor.
Lincoln Club co-founder Robert Beaver, meanwhile, has agreed to serve as treasurer of the exploratory U.S. Senate bid of Rep. William Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton).
McCarthy Builds Bridge Before a Builders' Group
Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy (D-San Francisco), who has been in Orange County often to shore up his reelection chances, braved a potentially hostile audience recently when he spoke to members of the Building Industry Assn.'s Orange County chapter recently.
The GOP-dominated organization is considered one of Nestande's key bases of financial support despite some complaints in recent years that the supervisor has strong-armed developers and builders for campaign contributions.
McCarthy talked mostly about the county's need for additional highways and water, subjects dear to members' hearts and their pocketbooks.
McCarthy said that fees charged to developers by local governments have gone up nearly 600% since passage of the Proposition 13 property tax reform measure in 1978 because of the need to replace revenues lost since then and the massive outlays needed for capital projects.
He said that industry, if it is serious about helping the county and California maintain its infrastructure, should support a proposed constitutional amendment now making its way through the state Legislature. The amendment would return to local governments their right to raise revenue through general obligation bonds, a right that Proposition 13 took away from them.
State Sen. John Seymour (R-Anaheim) is author of the proposed amendment, which would require a majority vote of the electorate instead of a two-thirds approval for bond measures.
McCarthy's speech drew polite applause and mixed reactions.
He was standing in for state Treasurer Jesse Unruh, also a Democrat, who had intended to discuss state programs designed to help the housing industry.
Moreover, the group did not want to upset Nestande, who must rule on many of the members' development projects as a county supervisor and who they knew is a possible McCarthy foe in 1986.
In an interview following his speech, McCarthy refused to discuss the viability of a Nestande candidacy. "You know you're not going to get me to answer a question like that," McCarthy joked. "Discussing it at all benefits nobody."
While McCarthy denies it, other Democrats are scared that a Deukmejian landslide in 1986 would carry other statewide Republican candidates into office and leave McCarthy out in the cold.
McCarthy has some key Democratic supporters in the county, including wealthy Laguna Hills developer David Stein and Santa Ana Councilman Dan Young, also a developer.
Dornan and His Image: A Firebrand or Hero?