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Republicans Near a Clean Sweep in O.C.


Reaffirming their hold on local politics, Orange County Republicans were steam rolling their Democratic rivals at the polls Tuesday, and were on the verge of retaking the lone legislative seat now held by a Democrat--the 69th Assembly District in central Orange County, according to returns early today.

The Republican bandwagon included the 2nd Supervisorial District race between Democrat Linda Moulton Patterson and Republican Jim Silva, who was winning the nonpartisan contest.

The seat is being vacated by Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder.

The local Republican romp was icing on the cake for GOP stalwarts, who also celebrated their party's taking control of both Houses of Congress.

Loping to the stage of the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel, Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) gleefully surveyed the crowd that filled the ballroom and spilled out the wide doors as he relayed the news.

"The unthinkable, the unimaginable seems to be happening. What's happening tonight is truly seismic. It's an earthquake," said Cox, who was the national GOP's point man in the campaign to win California House seats. "I knew sometime in my lifetime I'd see a Republican Congress. We're going to do exactly the opposite of what's been done for 40 years."

The mood was somber at a Santa Ana union hall, where a live band played before a spiritless, small crowd at the Democrats' election night gathering.

"It's disappointing. We worked really hard," said Orange County Democratic Party Chairwoman Dorianne Garcia. "But next week we're going to get together to analyze what we did wrong and what we did right."

The night also proved to be a long one for Orange County politicians in statewide races:

- Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Garden Grove) lost in his bid to unseat state Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren. Umberg gave up the 69th district seat to run for attorney general.

- In the contest for state superintendent of public instruction, Maureen DiMarco, a Democrat from Cypress who serves as Gov. Pete Wilson's secretary of child development and education, was losing to Assemblywoman Delaine Eastin (D-Fremont).

As in statewide balloting, the local voting ratio was 2 to 1 in favor of Proposition 187--the illegal immigration measure.

"We won! We won! We won!" said Barbara Kiley, one of the campaign co-chairmen for Proposition 187 at a celebration at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. "This is what the people wanted. The opposition told all the lies. We told the truth. People are sick of illegal immigrants."

Although there were fears that high emotions over Proposition 187 might lead to disturbances at polling places, officials reported no major problems during the balloting.

Throughout the day, voting rights activists monitored voting at predominantly Latino precincts in central Orange County, fearing Republicans would try to intimidate ethnic voters.

Overall, it was a bad Election Day for Democrats, who ran vigorous voter registration drives in four central Orange County races in hopes of holding on to Umberg's 69th Assembly District seat and perhaps capturing three other seats long held by Republicans.

Orange County Republicans also were giving Gov. Pete Wilson a huge margin, which helped give him victory statewide.

Republican statewide candidates count on Orange County Republicans to deliver 2-to-1 vote ratios in order to offset Democratic strongholds in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Michael Huffington fell short of that margin in Orange County throughout the night.

Other local Republicans made a strong showing Tuesday:

- In the nastiest local race--the fight for the 46th Congressional District--incumbent Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove), was leading his Democratic challenger, Mike Farber. Dornan and Farber filed lawsuits against each other during the campaign, charging false personal attacks.

Two years ago, Dornan waged a modest campaign against a low-key Democratic opponent, but this year he seemed aggravated by Farber. Dornan dipped into his hefty war chest to send a series of campaign mailers that blanketed the district in the closing days of the campaign.

- In the heavily Latino 69th Assembly District, Republican Jim Morrissey was leading Democrat Michael Metzler. The 69th district's legislative seat, the only one in Orange County held by a Democrat, was vacated by Umberg. Morrissey had complained about an election eve "hit" mailer circulated by Democrats, which he said falsely accused him of planning to post poll guards at Latino voting precincts.

- Republican Assemblyman Curt Pringle of Garden Grove was holding back a challenge by Anaheim Councilman Irv Pickler. Pringle was leading Pickler by a 2-to-1 ratio.

- Republican state Sen. Rob Hurtt (R-Garden Grove) also was headed toward victory in the 34th district race pitting him against Democrat Donna Chessen, a Buena Park council member.

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