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Brown, Garamendi Rally Orange County Democrats


ANAHEIM — State Treasurer Kathleen Brown and state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi brought their gubernatorial campaigns to a convention of Orange County Democrats on Saturday, virtually ignoring each other and instead aiming their fire at Gov. Pete Wilson.

In a straw poll taken throughout the day, Brown beat Garamendi by 140 votes to 114. The third Democrat in the race, state Sen. Tom Hayden of Santa Monica, did not attend the meeting but received 27 votes.

The convention of about 500 Orange County Democrats served as a pep rally for the political party seeking to build momentum in a county controlled by the Republican Party, which holds an 18-point voter registration margin over Democrats.

Leading off a forum for statewide candidates, Brown said that until Wilson faced the pressure of an election year he did not fight the migration of California jobs to other states, that he cut education funding without trying to improve schools, and that he "talks tough on crime at the front door while he lets dangerous parolees out the back door."

Californians, she said, do not feel safer and do not feel more economic security than they did before Wilson took office.

"And that's why we need a change from the Rip Van Wilson who's been sleeping and slumbering for the last three years in the governor's office," Brown told the delegates.

Garamendi, who has attracted attention in local communities throughout the state by "working" side-by-side with everyday workers such as jailers, teachers and factory workers, said Wilson "does not have a clue; does not have the foggiest understanding of what's taking place" on issues such as worker safety and California's choked transportation system.

Garamendi grew more passionate as he spoke about health care. His own plan for California, never approved, served as a starting point for development of President Clinton's health care plan that has run into a firestorm of criticism.

"When I hear after 25 years of my crusade to establish a national health plan, when I hear the Republicans say to me that there's no health crisis, oh boy, I'm telling you, we are in for a fight," Garamendi said. "We will have a national health plan that provides health care to every single American, and it will be done."

Earlier in the day, state Democratic Party Chairman Bill Press urged Orange County Democrats to help "get rid of that cruel and that cold and that callous, incompetent and poor excuse for a governor named Pete Wilson."

Convention organizers said the convention should serve as a reminder to Democratic statewide candidates that Orange County should not be ignored--that Democrats here can cut into the huge margins that statewide Republican candidates often rely on to carry them over the top.

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