WASHINGTON — It took illicit drugs to get California representatives from both political parties together at a dinner-dance here Tuesday night.
In a rare social gathering of Democrats and Republicans, many members of the California congressional delegation were among 250 people attending a black-tie dinner-dance and silent auction to raise money for the Californians for Drug-Free Youth.
A pet project of several of the California congressional wives, the group took in about $40,000 from the $125-a-plate event at the Departmental Auditorium, according to principal organizer Luana Shumway. Shumway's husband, Norman, is the Republican congressman from Stockton. Most of the money came from California business interests.
The influence of the wives was apparent.
When Rep. Ed Zschau (R-Los Altos) was asked why he attended the party, his wife, Jo, chimed in, "I dragged him." (Actually, the Zschaus made their house on Nantucket available for one week as one of the auction items, which also included California wines and weekends at California hideaways such as the Silverado Country Club and the Palm Desert Resort Hotel Country Club.)
"We usually don't go out at night in Washington," Ed Zschau said. "This is the only time we have to spend with our daughter. But this is a special night.
"There have been some bipartisan get-togethers of the delegation but I don't recall us doing any service projects like this together."
Rep. Anthony Beilenson (D-Los Angeles) admitted, "I don't usually go out at night. I go home. But my wife is here, so I came to see her."
Dolores Beilenson is one of the more active California congressional spouses in the Congressional Families for Drug-Free Youth, along with Norma Lagomarsino and Doris Matsui, wives of Reps. Robert J. Lagomarsino (R-Ojai) and Robert T. Matsui (D-Sacramento).
"This is our first effort as a bipartisan group," said honorary co-chair Gayle Wilson, whose husband, Republican Sen. Pete Wilson, arrived late after a Senate session. "I think we can build on this."
Matsui lauded the dinner project as "a way of making money to use to get the word out to the young.
"We have a 13-year-old son and it's a concern to all parents with teen-agers."
Rep. Augustus Hawkins (D-Los Angeles) said he attended the party because "my district, perhaps more than any other, in concerned with drug abuse."
In the war against drugs, Hawkins said, "We're not making progress. We're not doing nearly enough."
Rep. Bobbi Fiedler (R-Northridge) said she was attending the party to support the anti-drug group, but she was happy to talk about her campaign for the Republican Senate nomination.
"We're doing extremely well," Fiedler said.
The bipartisan spirit of the evening was "very healthy," said Rep. Al McCandless (R-Palm Desert). "I'd like to see more of it."
"I think it's great," Rep. Shumway said. "There are very few occasions when we get together on a bipartisan basis, and we welcome them. We get so wrapped up in political ideology that we don't get together often."
One guest, who asked to remain anonymous, wondered, "Why are the Californians for Drug-Free Youth plying people with liquor?"
When someone noted the drink in his own hand, he replied, "One has to know what the other side is doing. If the drug-free youth people are serving booze, I figure, when in Rome. . . ."
The decor of the evening suggested something more along the lines of "When in California. . . ."
While the band played the fight songs of Stanford and California (along with "New York, New York"), guests dined on avocado salad, tortilla chips and guacamole, chicken adobe with jalapeno sauce and Mexican corn bread.