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Democrats Give Longshore 'Turkey' Award for Reagan Letter Foul-Up

December 23, 1986|DAVID REYES | Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Democratic Party Monday named Assemblyman Richard E. Longshore (R-Santa Ana) recipient of its 1986 Golden Turkey Award, citing Longshore's use of an unauthorized mailer from the White House in the November election.

"It's our feeling that the letter showed a lack of responsibility and Longshore should never have mailed that letter out," said John R. Hanna, Democratic Party chairman, as he spoke to reporters Monday at a luncheon in Newport Beach.

Longshore, who defeated Santa Ana Mayor Dan Griset for the 72nd Assembly District seat, mailed an endorsement written on what appeared to be White House stationery, purportedly signed by President Reagan. However, the endorsement was never approved by the White House.

'Attempt to Fool Voters'

"It was a deliberate attempt to fool the voters during the last few hours of a close campaign," said Michael Ray, chairman of Democratic Party Foundation of Orange County.

When told of the award, Longshore, who did not attend the luncheon, laughed and said: "I hope they make it big enough so I can cook it for Thanksgiving."

The award is patterned after U.S. Sen. William Proxmire's monthly Golden Fleece Award, which the Wisconsin Democrat gives for the most wasteful, ridiculous or ironic use of the taxpayers' money.

The turkey stands about four inches tall and is gold-plated. It is mounted on a three-inch wooden base inscribed with the words: "The Golden Turkey Award, Richard Longshore, December 1986."

Hanna said the Golden Turkey will be handed out periodically.

Longshore said he would like to give a ceramic "Laughing Elephant" to a worthy Democrat.

"But I've got so many nominees, I'm having a difficult time selecting who to give it to," he said.

Longshore's candidates include Richie Ross, House Speaker Willie Brown's former executive assistant who managed the losing campaign of Longshore's Democratic opponent, Griset, and Party Chairman Hanna.

Vow to Monitor GOP

The award, the first ever by county Democrats, symbolizes the "close" monitoring of Republican politicians, monitoring that Democratic leaders vowed to perform next year.

Not only did Republican candidates sweep the county's legislative seats in the Nov. 4 balloting, but they entered the election with 203,521 more registered voters than the Democrats.

As of Oct. 15, the county had 1,090,137 registered voters, 591,381 or 54.1% of them Republicans and 387,860 or 35.6% of them Democrats.

"We're going to be aggressive in 1987. We're not going to sit on our hands but try to stop the (political) erosion," Hanna said.

Hanna declared that the new aggressiveness reflects the Democrats' attempt to get "back in the good graces" of the county's electorate.

In the November election, Democrats lost their only Assembly seat in the county to Longshore. Griset ran for the seat held by Assemblyman Richard Robinson (D-Garden Grove), while Robinson was trying unsuccessfully to unseat U.S. Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove).

'Constant Embarrassment'

"We need to hold our elected officials more accountable for their actions. With a few exceptions, Orange County's representation in Sacramento and Washington is a constant embarrassment," Hanna added.

Republican Party Chairman Thomas A. Fuentes disagreed with Hanna and dismissed the award as Christmas Week silliness.

"It sounds like they've been sipping on the eggnog," Fuentes said.

"I think it's unfortunate for partisan rhetoric. They would do better to spend the week celebrating the holidays. We in the Republican Party wish them a very merry Christmas and a happy new year."

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