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GOP Gives Carona Another Chance

April 11, 2006|Jean O. Pasco | Times Staff Writer

A committee of Orange County Republican leaders voted Monday to give Sheriff Michael S. Carona one more chance to win the party's endorsement.

Carona barely missed being endorsed by the local GOP last month after his reelection was opposed by several party members. They argued in favor of sheriff's Lt. Bill Hunt, a rival candidate endorsed by the county deputies union.

A party subcommittee met Monday at the urging of Matt Holder, who attended last month's endorsement meeting and took issue with statements made by fellow Republican Tim Whitacre, Hunt's campaign manager.

Holder, who works for Carona campaign manager John Lewis, insisted the vote was skewed by Whitacre's comments, chiefly his denial that the sheriff had the support of respected Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters. Walters has backed Carona.

The vote could take place at Monday's GOP Central Committee meeting if two-thirds of the members agree to reopen the endorsement.

Carona's political trajectory has faltered in the last year amid allegations of mismanagement, sexual misconduct and conflicts of interest -- all of which he has denied.

The state attorney general is investigating allegations that Carona sexually harassed two women and whether he improperly billed his election committee for $130,000 in expenses.

After last month's vote favoring Hunt, Chairman Scott Baugh said Carona would have prevailed if all 70 committee members had attended. The vote was conducted among 48 members.

Hunt said he preferred that none of the candidates received the party's endorsement for the nonpartisan seat because all were Republicans.

Also challenging Carona are Los Angeles County Sheriff's Cmdr. Ralph W. Martin and retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Alcaraz. Neither Martin nor Alcaraz was invited to attend the endorsement meeting.

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