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POLITICS '96

A behind-the-scenes look at Orange County's political life

Conroy 4 Votes Shy of GOP Backing, 4 Fingers Shy of Wave to Spitzer

September 22, 1996

Assemblyman Mickey Conroy (R-Orange) came close last week to winning the backing of the Republican Central Committee in his bid to become county supervisor.

Choosing sides between two Republicans in a county nonpartisan race would have been rare. The only other time the GOP ruling group has endorsed for supervisor was in 1994, when it gave the nod to Jim Silva, running against Democrat Linda Moulton-Patterson.

The vote, however, took place Monday night, the day before Conroy gave the finger to his rival, Deputy Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer at a South County Republican event.

Taking many by surprise, Assemblyman Jim Morrissey (R-Santa Ana) moved that the committee endorse Conroy. Nineteen members supported his motion, 11 voted against, and three abstained. The motion needed 23 votes--or two-thirds--to pass.

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The Sheriff Endorses: Sheriff Brad Gates is backing Westminster Mayor Charles V. Smith in the contest for 1st District supervisor. Gates confirmed last week he has endorsed his "personal friend" and is appearing at two Smith fund-raisers.

The endorsement had some in the county wondering if this is an example of the split between the county's hard-right, social conservatives--who dominate elected office--and the rest of the Republican Party.

Mark Leyes, Smith's opponent for supervisor, is backed by Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle of Garden Grove and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach, as well as Supervisor Jim Silva and GOP County Chairman Tom Fuentes. They don't think Smith is conservative enough.

Gates doesn't think there is a real split among conservatives in the county, just honest differences of opinion about who is the better candidate.

"I am a very conservative guy; very conservative fiscally, about restructuring government and in the crime arena, but I am a very compassionate guy too," he said. "I think Chuck Smith is a very conservative guy. He is certainly not a moderate as far as I am concerned."

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Two on One: Democrat Mike Farber, who lost the March primary in the 46th Congressional District to Loretta Sanchez, has set up an independent committee to raise money to defeat Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove). The committee is called "Dump Dornan."

Farber, who raised almost $500,000 nationwide in a losing primary effort, is employing the same nationwide anti-Dornan mailing list he began compiling in 1994 when he first ran for Dornan's seat. The mailer touts "Dump Dornan trading cards" alongside a drawing of a baseball player. "Be a hit! with your political friends," says the contribution pitch.

Farber, who owns a printing and political mailing business in Santa Ana, will make a considerable profit for his cause from the mailer. He hopes to net $100,000 and use that to send literature throughout the district, he said.

"We would like to see Loretta Sanchez win on election day," he said.

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Dornan agenda: Rep. Dornan may have felt like he was in the doghouse when the Republican leadership, to avoid some high-profile veto bait, scrapped his war against gays and HIV-positive people serving in the military. But the Garden Grove conservative claims victory on another front: pornography.

A provision to stop the sale of explicitly sexual magazines--like Playboy--and videos on military bases will soon become law when President Clinton signs the military authorization bill.

"We are a nation on the brink of moral disintegration," said Dornan at a Capitol Hill press briefing. "Pornography does nothing but rot the brains of our young men and women."

Compiled by Times political writer Peter M. Warren with contributions from staff writer Len Hall and correspondent David Phinney.

Politics '96 appears every Sunday. Items can be mailed to Politics '96, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, or faxed to (714) 966-7711.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Reaching the Pessimists

To no one's surprise, President Clinton has a biglead among O.C. registered voters who believe they are better off financially now than a year ago and those who ay the U.S. is headed for economic prosperity during the next year. But he also wins a reasonable share of voters who say they are worse off and who think the country is about to turn sour. The results:

Worse off

Dole: 47%

Clinton 34%

Other / don't know: 13%

Perot: 6%

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U.S. headed for bad times

Dole: 47%

Clinton: 27%

Other / don't know: 14%

Perot: 12%

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Source: Orange County Annual Surveys, UCI

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