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New Leadership Needed for O.C. Republicans

November 30, 2003

Re "County GOP Is United Against Charges of Division in the Party," Nov. 9:

It was not surprising to see letters extolling the virtues and accomplishments of Tom Fuentes during his tenure as Orange County Republican Party chairman. Mike Houston is correct when he states that "Fuentes has been a leader for change." However, the change that's needed is at the top.

Fuentes has stated numerous times that he supports term limits and is happy to step down as chairman once someone is ready to assume the post. The only problem is that he has been chairman for almost 20 years, and it is unreasonable to believe there has not been anyone else qualified to step into the role in that time.

The sad truth is that the county that was once known as "America's Most Republican County" no longer holds that distinction. The county that provided overwhelming vote majorities for Ronald Reagan and George Bush in the 1980s can no longer deliver a large enough margin to overcome the liberal strongholds of Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The county that used to have Republicans elected to every Assembly, Senate and congressional seat, need only look to central Orange County to see the likes of Lou Correa, Joe Dunn and Loretta Sanchez.

Every two years, we hear about a push to get out the vote and register Latinos as Republicans because they more closely share our values than the Democrats. And every two years, the vote margin grows wider and wider as more and more Latinos register as Democrats.

Perhaps Houston is right when he says that today's central committee meetings bring forth a "diversity of opinion" and that Fuentes has "united and led the grass-roots activists in our party." I certainly hope so, because when I served on the central committee in the 1990s, there was no diversity of opinion. It would be quashed or tabled or not allowed to be brought to the floor. As a result, many conservative grass-roots activists and foot soldiers decided to find other outlets.

Every now and then, there needs to be change in order to refresh and reinvigorate the troops. Fuentes has served the Republican Party with honor and commitment. But just like in the recent recall election, it is time for new leadership.

It is time to pass the torch to a new leader to take up the charge of reclaiming central Orange County, providing large Republican vote margins for state and national candidates, bringing back the disenfranchised and disillusioned grass-roots activists and restoring us as "America's Most Republican County."

Steven N. Brody

Orange

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