Mickey R. Conroy, the burly ex-Marine who is trying to rally support for his latest effort to expel Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) from office, delivered a stirring plea to Santa Monica Republicans this week: Uncle Mickey wants you.
Conroy, speaking with the passion and conviction of a military recruiter, told members of the First United Republican Assembly that their help is desperately needed in the war against Hayden.
He called on the group to voice challenges to Hayden's fitness in the courts and in letters to other politicians.
"Every day he sits there is a travesty of justice," Conroy told the group of about 40 Republicans who came to hear him speak on Monday. "I need you to get off your duffs and counteract the Haydenites."
Conroy contends that Hayden, a former radical political activist, is constitutionally barred from holding office for committing "traitorous" acts during the Vietnam War.
He said that Hayden would have been booted out of the Legislature already if it were not for the loyalty of other Democrats.
Hayden's office called Conroy's accusations absurd. Hayden spokesman Bill Schulz said that Conroy, who heads an Orange County organization called California War Veterans for Justice, is trying to revive an issue that has already been rejected by the courts and the Assembly.
Gloria Stout, president of the First United Republican Assembly, said that many members of her organization stand behind Conroy.
"He has an argument," said Stout, who ran against Hayden in 1986. "It has taken some of us as individuals a long time to understand the argument. But I think he has a good following."
During his Santa Monica appearance, Conroy, 60, spoke long and passionately of his mission, claiming that his primary interest is in protecting the state Constitution rather than attacking Hayden. But it was clear from his remarks that the former Marine has no love for the former anti-war activist.
At various points in his speech Conroy called Hayden, who visited Hanoi during the height of the Vietnam War, a "fascist" and a man who shows contempt for the law. And he told his audience that Hayden should not be seen as being untouchable just because he wins elections.
"The people of the 44th District had a right to elect Hayden," Conroy said of the assemblyman, who has increased his margin of victory in each election since 1982. "But you also have a right to fight him. Do these people really believe that their only salvation is with this kid who has nothing going for him?"
In a subsequent telephone interview from his Santa Ana office, Conroy said his group will step up its efforts against Hayden next year, when he comes up for reelection.
The group unsuccessfully petitioned the Legislature to oust Hayden in 1985 and 1986 and has failed in attempts to have Hayden ousted by the courts, but Conroy remains hopeful.
He said that the organization, which started with about 38 supporters who came together when Hayden first captured the Assembly seat in 1982, now has more than 50,000 people on its mailing list.
Conroy also has an ally in Assemblyman Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach), who has unsuccessfully tried to have Hayden's 44th Assembly District seat declared vacant by the Assembly.
Conroy said that the battle will go on for as long as Hayden remains in office.
"I will pursue it till the day I die," Conroy said.