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Orange County

Republicans Open Little Saigon Office

August 01, 2004|Stanley Allison | Times Staff Writer

Hoping to reclaim central Orange County Republicans who have drifted from the party, GOP leaders opened a campaign office Saturday in Westminster's Little Saigon.

And in a gesture meant to underscore GOP strength within Westminster, Mayor Margie Rice announced her switch from Democrat to Republican at the Bolsa Avenue office opening.

"When I joined the [Democratic] Party 54 years ago, it was for the working people, the little people," she said. "This party no longer represents them, and I think the Republicans do."

The new GOP office, on the second floor of the Asian Village strip mall that houses Vietnamese restaurants, medical clinics and beauty supply stores, represents a strategic foothold in an area that has become more Democratic in recent years, Republican leaders concede.

GOP leaders say their goal is to register 10,000 Republicans in the 68th and 69th Assembly districts in central Orange County to make up for defections to the Democrats. Republicans still outnumber Democrats in the 68th District by a ratio of 4 to 3.

The Westminster office opening overflowed with party faithful and leaders, including Senate candidate Bill Jones, county GOP chairman Scott Baugh, Assemblyman Todd Spitzer (R-Orange) and 68th Assembly District candidate Van Tran.

Tran, a Garden Grove councilman, could become the first Vietnamese American to be elected to a state legislature. He is running against Democrat Al Snook, a Korean War veteran who operates an insurance business.

More than half of Vietnamese American voters age 55 to 64 in the 68th District are registered Republicans. But that number drops to 35% among voters 18 to 24, the independent research group Pacific Opinions says.

Spitzer, who donated $10,000 to the effort to register Republicans, said, "Unless we're very proactive and go door to door and connect with voters, we won't be successful."

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