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Ex-First Lady Rallies Faithful to Party for the Party's Sake

July 22, 1988|ANN CONWAY

Move over, Atlanta. Thanks to a dollop of Southern hospitality from Rosalynn Carter, local Democrats have been doing some partying of their own during convention week.

Seems the former First Lady invited a few staunch supporters to toss "From Your House to the White House" bashes for the Thursday acceptance speech night at the Democratic National Convention.

So folks such as Lola Romero Seymour and Frances Jane (F.J.) Kapsch of Tustin opened their doors to pals who dined on Boston baked beans and hot dogs, while--via the miracle of the little screen--feasting their eyes on the crowning night of the convention.

"First, I received a phone call from a nationwide coordinator, asking if I'd have a party," Kapsch explained. "Then I received a letter, signed by Mrs. Carter, telling me it could be a simple party and to invite friends and neighbors over to celebrate." And then, Kapsch received a party packet containing balloons and a banner that heralded the "Democratic Party Kickoff." Guests anted up $10-each at the parties, with proceeds going to the Dukakis campaign.

Seymour added a silent auction to her bash, with proceeds going to the campaign coffers of Laguna Beach City Councilwoman Lida Lenney, the Democratic candidate for the 40th Congressional seat. Among items on the block: a poster from the George McGovern campaign and lapel buttons from the Mondale-Ferraro slate proclaiming "Our Time Has Come."

One guest at the Seymour shindig was Vivian Hall, co-founder in 1982 of Women For: Orange County (an activist group that addresses civil rights, environment, peace and education issues) and the first woman from Orange County to run for Congress. "I've been to two national conventions," Hall said. "In 1976 as a congressional candidate and in 1980 as a Teddy Kennedy delegate. I decided to sit this one out. When you're there, all the drama is exciting.

"But, I felt it was going to be a little hot and crowded this time. Then again, sitting in a comfortable chair in good California weather watching the convention on TV, I've gotten some of those maybe-I-should-have-gone twinges."

Another guest at Seymour's was Dona Stine, an alternate "who didn't get to go," she said. "When our district (the 43rd) had its election, Jesse Jackson got over 15% of the vote, which meant he got one delegate and Dukakis got two and an alternate.

"Because of that, Richard O'Neill (former state Democratic chairman) was bumped from third delegate to alternate and I was bumped altogether. Such is life in politics. I really wanted to go, but next time I'll make it."

Also on Seymour's guest list: Jessica and Jerry Yudelson, a candidate in the 38th Congressional District. Yudelson, a consultant for the high-tech industry, wanted to attend the convention but stayed home to spend time in his district.

"The convention has given me a feeling of hopefulness and inspiration that I haven't felt since the Kennedy years," Jessica said. "I am almost glad I'm not in Atlanta. I'm better able to focus on the talks." (For dog lovers only: the Yudelsons even have their pooch helping out at Jerry's campaign headquarters. He licks stamps and envelopes.) And while some of local Democratic leaders spent last night on the town, some stayed home. Christian F. (Rick) Thierbach, candidate in the 72nd Assembly District (for the seat held by Republican Richard E. Longshore until his recent death) walked his precincts until about 8 p.m. and then dined on barbecued chicken with his wife, Marlene, and son Chris, 5. "My campaign is the single reason I'm not in Atlanta with the rest of them," Thierbach said. "I have an obligation to meet as many of my voters as possible." As for the state of the convention, Thierbach said he is "pleased."

"I am seeing an enthusiasm in Orange County that hasn't existed for years," he said.

Annette Hurwitz, whose late husband, Samuel, was known as "Mr. Democrat" in Orange County circles, will tape "acceptance speech night" and watch it when she comes home from her bridge game. "I made a date for bridge not realizing what night it was," moaned Hurwitz, who has permanent digs at the Balboa Bay Club. "You can't break up a foursome."

But Hurwitz has been represented well in Atlanta this week. Her daughter, Bonnie Shershow, is "Kitty Dukakis' No. 1 liaison," Hurwitz said. "She goes everywhere with them. She says Michael Dukakis is absolutely brilliant." Shershow, a Harvard graduate with a master's in public administration, met Kitty Dukakis while at Harvard. "She's been with them for two years," Hurwitz said.

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