Agents’ Orange 3: Partisan Political VOLUNTEERS in the OC, 1960-2000


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Ed. note:  Tom Rogers really had a soft spot, almost a fetish, for “political volunteers” who worked for free on the strength of their beliefs.  His book Agents’ Orange which we’re publishing here in installments, is to a large degree an elegy for the age of volunteers, and a lament for what he saw supplanting that in the last few decades of the 20th century – paid political consultants, the growing use of computers and technology, and the resulting dependence of OC politics on an ever more staggering, neverending, influx of MONEY.

The last installment we published, under the title “OC Becomes a Conservative Powerhouse, 1920-80,”  was actually the INTRODUCTION to his mammoth first chapter “The Role of Volunteers,” which we’ll start now.  Here’s Tom C. Rogers…

The original illustration for Tom’s epic chapter on OC Volunteers. Wow – Republicans, Democrats, unions and environmentalists really used to band together against development and other special interests?  What a halcyon time it musta been.

In the following section, the author has attempted to list all of those organizations, associations, and clubs that have engaged the volunteer in the playing out of the political history of OC.  Some of these organizations are not all volunteer in the strictest sense of the word, but with few exceptions participation is voluntary.  The OCTA and other agencies listed under “Governmental and Quasi-Governmental County Organizations” are included for informative purposes, and they have played an important role in shaping the political landscape of OC.

Another fine point is that though some of the groups listed under this category may pay a small stipend or per diem to its members, they are still deemed, for purposes of this book, as “volunteer.”

Author’s note:  When listing these groups and individuals in this section, I think back over the years and remember the wonderful people of all political affiliations who have made immense personal sacrifices to make OC a better place to live.

The Role of Volunteers in OC, 1960-2000

1. Partisan Volunteer Political Organizations

OC Republican Central Committee (OCRCC)

[Readers – did this become today’s OC GOP?  When, how and why?]

Political central committees were established by California state law in 1913, and they operate under the permitting legislation.  Every county in the state is permitted to form a local commmittee that, after organization, becomes the official party entity in that county, operating under the authority of the respective state committee.  While individual central  committees may have different bylaws, they are all mandated to support their party’s candidates for election to partisan office. 

“Old-guard” OC OG’s Walter Knott & Carl Karcher.

Membership in a central committee is achieved by popular vote; candidates from smaller counties run by supervisorial district, or by assembly district in the larger counties, if the number of Assembly Districts exceeds five.  A member is subject to expulsion if it is proven that they have publicly supported any candidate of an opposition party for Partisan office.

In the OC, since 1960, the Republican Central Committee has been able to maintain an official headquarters and finance the position of an executive director, to assist the chairman and various subcommittees in their volunteer efforts.

The stated purpose of OCRCC is to elect Republicans to partisan office.  To accomplish this mandate, subcommittees, such as Precinct Finance, Candidate Research, Recruitment, Speakers Bureau, Policy, Youth, and Ethics, are established.

Particular emphasis has been placed on registering Republicans and getting out the vote on Election Day.

The precinct operation was the key to success in the early days for electing Republican candidates to partisan office.  The goal was to have at least one precinct chairman for every assembly district and a precinct captain for every precinct.

As election techniques became more sophisticated with the introduction of computer mail programs, professional polling, and focus groups, the role of the volunteer walking precincts became practically extinct.

The decline in effectiveness of volunteers distributing candidate literature door-to-door was offset by computer-compatible techniques which identified various voting groups and targeted them by tailoring specific mail pieces to the recipient’s age, gender, or issue of importance.

Since these mail programs were expensive, the importance of raising funds took preeminence over volunteer recruitment.  The late Jesse Unruh, a powerful Democratic Speaker of the Assembly during the sixties, once referred to money as “the mother’s milk of politics.”

The Finance Committee Chairman replaced the Precinct Chairman in order of importance and potential generous donors were sought after with vigor.

As the development of the OC accelerated, the political process became an important component of corporate success, and the question of whether the Republican elected officials could help developers or vice versa, became moot.  They needed each other.

Tom Fuentes and Ron Caspers, 1973

It did not happen overnight, but beginning with the election of Ron Caspers to the Board of Supervisors, the dynamics of Republican Party politics slowly changed from being motivated by principles to one driven by profits.  This was not a conscious effort on the part of any Central Committee members or officers; it was simply an inescapable political fact of life.

The “old guard” consisted of stalwarts such as Walter Knott, Si Fluor, Arnold Beckman, Dick Richards, Dave James, P. A. “Pappy” Palmer, Walter Schmid, Vic Andrews,Willis Clemmons, Carl Karcher, John Prescott, Coalson Morris, John Rau, Athalie and Judge Thurmond Clark, Ed Buster, Bill Adams, John McCleod, Bob Guggenheim, Sam Barnes, and Bob Beaver plus a multitude of similar supporters.  [above left] These individuals were gradually replaced by a new breed of Republican donors motivated by business considerations.

  • Lincoln Club of OC:

The Lincoln Club was formed in 1962, after the Republican electoral debacle of the same year.  Bob Beaver, an early county GOP leader, was concerned over the unexpected defeat of Vice President Richard Nixon by Pat Brown for governor, and the demise of other TOP  candidates.  Beaver wrote to Dr. Arnold Beckman (founder of Beckman Instruments and Hoag Hospital) with the suggestion that a new source of campaign funds be created, free from the ideological bias that had contributed to the Republican rout.

Dr. Beckman agreed, and turned his own personal efforts toward recruiting affluent local business associates and friends to the cause.

Dr. Beckman of the Lincoln Club (no Beaver pic available)

Beaver and Beckman were able to enlist the support of a number of county Republicans, many of whom are listed as the “old guard” above, and the Lincoln Club was on its way to becoming the unmatched private source of funds for Republican candidates.

The founding members had the foresight to realize that the Central Committee could not raise the large amounts of money necessary to make the difference in crucial elections.  In addition, the Central Committee’s modest allocation of funds to candidates was subject to consensus of members, which did not always match the desire of the Lincoln Club to help their own selections, some of whom were not even in county races.

As membership in the Lincoln Club changed over the years, so did their policies.  By the late 80’s the criteria for candidate support became more local in nature.  Financial support was given to candidates who were judged solely on the basis of whether they were friendly or inimical to the new “Heavy Hitters.”  Developers and their associates had gained influence in the Lincoln Club and Republican principles often took a back seat to the goals of the Building Industry Association. 

Lincoln Club members pay annual dues, which increased from $500 in 1962 to $1500 in 1998.

  • The 400 Club:

In the late 60’s and early 70’s, fundraising became the most important function of the Central Committee.  $100-per-plate events was the preferred way to raise funds sufficient enough to actually help county candidates and keep the Central Committee operating.

The pancake breakfasts and outdoor barbecues, priced from $10 to $25, were usually socially successful, but rarely raised enough money to cover expenses.

The author and his wife at a Republican BBQ – these didn’t bring in enough $$$

This presented a real dilemma to the chairman since there were many individuals who would have liked to attend major events, but simply could not afford a cash hit of $100 or more per person to participate in an evening with Republican leadership and, usually, a major speaker.  (It should be noted that, in those days,  in order to engage a Republican speaker of any stature, the County Committee was required to participate in a “Fair Share Quota” program.  The local committee shared net proceeds from a covered event with the state committee and the guest speaker.)

John Prescott along with Marcia Mae and Bill Bents came up with an idea that had considerable merit.  Named after the exclusive original top “400” socialites on Lady Astor’s invitation list in New York circa 1890, the program was designed so that Republicans could pledge smaller amounts on a monthly basis.  In return they would be entitled to attend all of the major events at no further cost.

The idea caught on, and it became an invaluable fundraising technique, whereby the Central Committee would have much needed regular monthly cash flow as well as a guarantee of good attendance at the major events.  The 400 Club was able to engage permanent staff, and continues to be a component of the Central Committee up to the present time. [2000]

  • Silver Circle:

Lois & Buck in recent years!

The Silver Circle was founded in 1977 and was considered to be the premier fundraiseing club of OC’s Republican Party, particularly when Lois Lundberg served as the chairman.   A partial list of founding members includes Lois Lundberg, Victor Andrews, Bob Beaver, Arnold Beckman,  Athalie Clark, Coalson Morris, Buck Johns  [later involved in 2009 Fairgrounds Swindle, and current supporter of Anaheim Mayor Sidhu against recall – V], Doy Henley, Gus Owen,  Bruce Nestande, Carl Karcher, Gavin Herbert, Charles Wiggins, and Richard Nixon.  Walter Knott was listed as Member Emeritus.

  • The Observer:

The OC Republican Central Committee in its formative years published a magazine under contract called The Almanac.  This was nothing more than pages of advertisements, the revenue from which was supposed to filter back to the Central Committee. 

The cost of soliciting ads from Republican businesses equaled or exceeded the revenue and there was little or no benefit for its continued publication. [LOL] 

In 1967, with David James as Central Committee Chairman, the publication was renamed The Observer and an attempt was made to turn it into a profitable venture and as a vehicle to enunciate the benefits of being a Republican in Orange County.

Reagan and Vogel, pals (thanks to Dissent the Blog)

James selected Hans Vogel as the first editor and publisher of The Observer, and the volunteer from Tustin did an outstanding job making it into a first-class publication, and one that stood on its own financially.  Under the direction of Vogel, The Observer was recognized throughout the state and nation as one of the better, if not the best, political commentaries in existence.

Helping Vogel go to press with the monthly was a volunteer staff.  Bunster Creely, a Costa Mesa bookstore owner and writer in his own right, was assistant editor and contributor.

Staff member Gus Owen was promoted to executive director of the Central Committee, and took over the duty from Vogel who hadd various business ventures to manage.

Later Gloria Walls took over the helm, and by that time the Federation of Republican Women had purchased and donated a new printing press to the Central Committee.  A full-time printer was employed, and materials for various Republican candidates and events were run off the press, which was located on Grand Avenue, close to Edinger in Santa Ana.  Ms. Walls went on to form her own public relations firm, and after her departure the publication slid downhill.  The printing press was eventually sold to raise money, and The Observer faded away.

Federation of Republican Women

The Federation is the largest and most active volunteer political organization in the history of the United States.  [At least up to year 2000 -ed]

Porter, progressive Republican activist for temperance and women’s suffrage.  (Would she still be a Republican, wonders Vern?)

In California, women have had the right to vote in local and state elections since 1911.  Following the ratification, in 1920, of the 19th Amendment granting them nationwide suffrage, women of Southern California became officially active in their pursuit of good government.  They were organized into the Los Angeles Study Club by Mrs. Florence Collins Porter (1853-1930.)  The group became so effective it became a model for other cities.

In 1925, after serving as an associate member of the Republican National Committee, Mrs. Porter and two other Republican women issued a call to prominent women of various clubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Berkeley to meet at LA’s Alexandria Hotel.

It was at this meeting that the organization known as the California Federation of Republican Women (CFRW) was formed.  Mrs. Porter was chosen as president of the Southern Division, and Mrs. Parker Maddden as president of the Northern Division.  [Northsiders and Southsiders!]

In 1937-8 the Central Division was formed, and in ’38 the CFRW voted tojoin the National Federation of Women’s Clubs, which became known as the National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW.)

The functions of the Republican National Committee and the NFRW are separate.  NFRW exists to cooperate with the Republican Party and is an official associate of the RNC. 

The Southern Division includes Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties.

The Federation is not a fundraising arm of the Republican Party, and income received from their membership dues is spent paying expenses for education of members to carry out the purpose of the organization, and other expenses incurred in furthering their stated goals.

Former and present Republican California first ladies were made lifetime members of the Federation, with Gloria Deukmejian being the first so honored, followed by Nancy Reagan and Gayle Wilson.

Mousel

Orange County CFRW members have received national honors and attention for their activities, including Charlotte Mousel, Dorothy Beaver, Ann Spencer,  and a host of other dedicated Republicans.  Charlotte Mousel, who served as Nationa president in 1994, was also honored with a lifetime membership, joining the ranks of California first ladies.

In the OC, the Federation has been the backbone of volunteer activities, and the minutes of the earliest chapters (Anaheim, Orange, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, San Clemente) go back to 1957, although it’s safe to say their activities predate that time by quite a few years.  The group with the largest membership at any one time was Santa Ana FRW, with a roster of between 800 – 1000 persons listed as active.

Every Republican candidate who has run for partisan office, and appeared on an OC ballot, owes the Federation a debt of gratitude;  while having its own political philosophy, the Federation steadfastly supports all Republican candidates willingly and effectively (if not always enthusiastically.)

The Newport Beach and Laguna Beach chapters left the Federation, and the Newport club is still in operation as an independent organization.

In the 60’s, the philosophical division in the Republican Party statewide found its way into the OC Federation, as well as other GOP local volunteer groups.

One of the south county clubs, Southern OC, with Donna Wilkinson, Butchie Porter, Kay Shaw and Maureen Reagan, felt that their conservative views were not being given balanced consideration by the county board.

At a county CFRW convention in 1964, the south county club believed that parliamentary procedures were being used to keep conservatives from being elected to the county board.  Their assumption was confirmed when there was a last-minute attempt by the existing board to name a new slate of chairpersons as a voting bloc.  Conservative members felt their votes were nullified by this last maneuver.

The matter was taken to the State Federation, which found that the conservatives had not been treated in accordance with Federation bylaws, and ruled in favor of the South OC chapter.  The losing side then went to civil court in an attempt to overturn the State Federation’s findings, but the court ruled in favor of the Federation’s right to govern its own members.

There were some hard feelings for several years, but unanimity of purpose ultimately prevailed and all of the clubs except one worked together.

The Irvine Coast Club formed by Mrs. Lee Spencer (Ann) still operates as an independent organization, within the framework of the Republican Party.

The Federation is one of the few partisan organizations which does not make pre-primary endorsements, and in fact is quite strict on this subject, laying out specific guidelines for member clubs to follow.

Another bylaw prohibits any FRW clube from  having guest speakers who are not members of the Republican Party.

The wisdom of the Federation’s founders and subsequent officers insured the permanency and continuity of CFRW’s effectiveness through many political cycles.

California Republican Assembly (CRA)

Founded in 1933, CRA is the preeminent volunteer organization in California, with numerous chapters spread throughout the state.  Its general membership is considered to be more conservative now in contrast to its early days when members’ philosophy more closely resembled the Party’s hierarchy of the 40’s and 50’s, when Earl Warren was governor and Nixon a rising star in Congress.

’60’s CRA leader Frizzelle, champion of not having to rent to minorities.

By the middle and late 60’s, CRA had become a  powerful force throughout California, and under the leadership of Dr. Nolan Frizzelle membership swelled as conservatives joined, prompted by Prop 14 [the resistance to Fair Housing] and the Goldwater campaign.

These two issues divided the Republican Party in the state along liberal vs conservative lines, with strong feelings on both sides.

CRA’s franchise permitted the organization to support conservative candidates and controversial ideas in the primary, an option that the official GOP central committees were prohibited from exercising.

Conservatives found a perfect fit with membership in the CRA, although it was not unusual for an individual to belong to both organizations at the same time.

CRA chapters are usually structured along geographical boundaries and in the OC the groups were formed along city lines in most instances.  Officers are elected and regular meetings held.  Before the primary,  during state and national election cycles, the chapters send representatives to their conventions,  one statewide and the other at the county level, to interview candidates for endorsement. 

CRA endorsements are usually sought after by all but the most liberal Repubican candidates.  Since each chapter has an equal voice, the more chapters in a county, the more influential that county was in the endorsement.  This gave further impetus to the formation of numerous CRA chapters in the OC.

In rare instances there has been no endorsement since a candidate must receive 2/3 of the votes, and when two equally qualified individuals vie for the same seat, a close tally will result in neither being approved.

A CRA endorsement can be quite helpful since endorsed candidates are identified on CRA “Voter’s Guides” which goes out to all or targeted Republican households (depending on the availability of funds.”

The fact that CRA has a dedicated and loyal cadre of volunteers provides an endorsed candidate with a pool of experienced precinct workers, which in earlier days was the most valuable asset any campaign could have.

One OC campaign in which CRA played a decisive role was the 1966 Republican Primary for the 60th Assembly District.  There were six Republicans on the ballot, and the CRA endorsed Robert Burke, who was nominated with the strong support of the volunteer organization.  With their help again in November, he went on to serve in Sacramento as a staunchly conservative assemblyman.

There were many other similar instances of CRA being a deciding factor in an election, but the Burke campaign still stands out in the minds of Party veterans.  In a nonpartisan contest, CRA involvemebntn was the deciding factor in electing Dr. Robert Peterson as Superintendent of Schools.

Schroeder and Fleischman – we know them well.

Orange Countians who have served as State Chariman of CRA include Nolan Frizzelle, Dave Gater, Jon Fleischman and Mike Schroeder.  Dr. Frizzelle was later elected to the State Assembly.  Fleischman graduated into campaign management [and later created the blog Flash Report];  Schroeder was elected Chairman of the California GOP [and top advisor to disgraced Sheriff Carona and disgraced DA Rackauckas; his sometime wife Susan Kang became the DA’s top aide and spokeswoman.]  Dave Gater continued to be active after his term as State Chairman, and served in other roles in the CRA for years.

United Republicans of California (UROC)

Shell.

In 1968 there was a split in the membership of CRA over endorsements, and Joe Shell, a candidate for governor against Nixon in 1962, was instrumental in the formation of a new group under the name United Republicans of California.  UROC members considered themselves to be more conservative than the CRA.  The fledgling organization flourished flourished for a while under Joe Shell’s leadership, but with Goldwater and Reagan on the scene, there were no windmills at which to tilt.

Republican candidates eagerly sought the endorsement of both the CRA and UROC particularly in Orange County, which added to the perceived conservative creentials of a candidate receiving both endorsements.

The hard-core conservatives of UROC had little love for President Nixon, and in the 70’s UROC’s membership began to decline.

One particular incident at the Republican Central Committee was revealing.  Since the Central Committee’s headquarters were always open to any accredited Republican organization, at no charge, UROC used the building on Grand Avenue for their regular meetings.  The only requirement was that they clean up and lock the door on the way out.  One morning after a UROC meeting, Central Committee Chairman Rogers [this author] discovered that his office had been vandalized, and pictures of President Nixon had been defaced.  Upon confronting UROC leadership, who hadd not been in attendance at the meeting (they were genuinely dismayed), it was agreed that the premises could no longer be made available under the informal open-door policy of the past.

UROC’s numbers had been declining at that time, and a number of their people joined the American Independent Party, which was the party of Governor George Wallace of Alabama, the AIP candidate for president.

There are no records or pictures to be found of this group, any more.

UROC limped along with a few remaining members loyal to the Republican Party, but its effectiveness diminished.  In 1996, Doug Thompson formed a countywide chapter, known as UROC-Orange County, and under new leadership the membership and enthusiasm revived.  The new group, which is decidedly conservative, seems on its way to be an important activist group in the county.  It does make pre-primary endorsements, and favored candidates receive volunteer help from the organization. 

Another goal of UROC-OC is to recruit new members and to educate the public on key issues of the day.

Republican Associates

Republican Associates first started in Los Angeles County in the early 60’s as an organization of Republican professional and business individuals who were, for the most part, in the ascendancy phase of their careers – interested in politics, but not yet in the league of the large donors.

Fluor!

When J. S. “Si” Fluor turned his attention to Orange County, and was preparing to move the Fluor Corporation facilities from Lynwood toward the south [now Aliso Viejo], he became more active in the political affairs of Orange County, his new home base.  One of the first assignments he gave himself was to form a Republican Associates group in the OC, and he agreed to serve as its first chairman in 1962. 

Si lent his his prestige and efforts in forming what was to be one of the most successful continuing organizations among all of the Republican groups.  After the initial groundwork had been laid, David L. James took over as chairman in 1963.

Dave James

Fluor, Beckman, Coalson Morris, Walter Not, and Bob Beaver all saw the need for reaching potential financial supporters in the business community who were not yet able to donate the $500 per year charged early members of the Lincoln Club.  They all helped in the formation of RA as an alternative for Republicans starting up their career ladders.

Dave James was the ideal hands-on successor to Si Fluor, particularly since he was an executive with Arthur Young & Company, a national accounting firm with offices in the OC and numerous corporate clients.  Under his chairmanship RA flourished, and it attained a most impressive list of participants.

Could not find a picture of the glamorous Kangas – editor.

After the first few years RA was able to hire an executive director, the first one being Marian Macdonald who later became a consultant and congressional aide.  Macdonald was followed by Valerie Kangas, a glamorous and talented individual who, following her stint as director for RA, went on to serve as administrative assistant to Congressman Chuck Wiggins.   (She also served as an administrative assistant to Melvin Belli, the flamboyant San Francisco attorney, but this assignment was of short duration, and she returned to OC politics.)

An interesting sidelight to the story of RA of OC was that before employing a permanent director, Dave James hired a consulting firm to give advice and formulate policy for RA.  Quite surprisingly, but typical of James, he chose the controversial firm that had handled Nelson Rockefeller’s presidential primary campaign in California against the popular Barry Goldwater.

Rocky the discredited eastern liberal elitist.

Not only did Rockefeller go down to a resounding defeat, but also in the process he epitomized the discredited eastern liberal wing of the GOP.  The Rockefeller elitist reputation and subsequent defeat had rubbed off on those consultants, and quite naturally they were finding it difficult if not impossible to obtain clients.

It took a great deal of courage on James’ part to hire Rockefeller’s former advisers, but James had an uncanny intuitive ability to discern competence in individuals.  He hired the consultants at $400 a month and they did an excellent job for RA, engaging speakers, assisting Chairman James to expand membership, and helping to make RA a permanent and prominent factor in county and state Republican politics.

Consultant Stuart Spencer.

The consulting firm was the then relatively unknown Spencer-Roberts & Associates who were later to become incredibly successful in guiding the Ronald Reagan campaigns for governor and president.

Bill Roberts has passed away, but Stuart Spencer remains active [apparently to this day! – V], his services eagerly sought after by not only Republican hopefuls but major corporations as well.  David James went on to become chairman of the County Central Committee and later headed up the Reagan For Governor campaign in 1970.

Spencer and Roberts would no doubt have survived and flourished without the RA contract, but receiving a paid assignment at such a point in their political careers must have helped them continue on with a bit more optimism in their eventual rise as political superstars.

California Republican League (CRL)

Reagan opponent Mayor Christopher.

The CRL was founded in 1963, and serves as a counterpoint to the more conservative Republican volunteer clubs.  The CRL played a very active role in the 1966 gubernatorial primary, when Ronald Reagan was opposed by San Francisco Mayor George Christopher.

The League was strongly in favor of Christopher and had the support of a number of state legislators including Bob Monagan, Bill Bagley, Cap Weinberger, and Pete Wilson, all of who were assemblymen at the time.  These assemblymen were called the “Young Turks” in those days.

Weinberger

The CRL played by the rules, and although it opposed Reagan’s candidacy, its activities were not of such a nature to cause an irreparable rift (a few bruised feelings, perhaps) in the party.  It did, however, mark their most vocal members as liberals, which to this day leaves the impression that it is less conservative than the other so-called alphabet clubs, although Cap Weinberger later became a trusted member of President Reagan’s cabinet serving as a very successful Secretary of Defense.

The CRL in Orange County has played a significant role in county partisan politics, particularly because it makes pre-primary endorsements.  The CRL has added another dimension to the county Republican majority, and invariably supports all Republican candidates for partisan office regardless of philosophical differences.

The Young Republicans (YR)

The Young Republican organization has had a checkered history, with battles within its ranks, non-payment of bills in former days, and acrimonious meetings.

In reality, the YR has done excellent work despite the inability of some members to remember that the ultimate goal is to elect Republicans to partisan office.  There does not appear to be a viable YR group in the OC at this time.  [Editor:  Apparently there is now – I don’t know what constitutes “viable”  but they do seem to be a fun-loving group of shiny-faced kids!]

Republicans for New Directions

In 1998, a group of Republican officeholders in the OC formed Republicans for New Directions.  Unhappy with what they perceived as a too narrow conservative bias when it comes to selecting GOP nominees, their goal is to broaden the GOP base.

The fledgling volunteers are fielding candidates for positions on the Republican Central  Committee, asserting that there is a broader-based opposition to old-line party leadership than in the past.

Supervisor Smith. With Spitzer’s hand on his shoulder.

One of the founders of RND is Charles Smith, a member of the OC Board of Supervisors.  Smith, miffed that Republican insiders supported his opponent for office of supervisor, discovered that there were others in the county who shared his view that the Republican Party should not be so rigid in deciding what issues were of paramount importance.  The fledgling group believed that a broader-based party would be more successful at the polls.  RND members were dismissed by some party regulars as disgruntled outsiders but final election results of 1998 tended to prove how right they were.

The RND holds regular meetings and appears to have some significant support amongst rank-and-file Republicans that object to the machine-politics approach to the selection  of GOP candidates for partisan primaries.

Young Americans for Freedom (YAF)

Iraq War-era OC Congressmen depicted as Chickenhawks – Royce to right, Dana at bottom.

YAF is a national organization that rose to some degree of prominence in the 60’s.  It’s designed for young conservative activists up to the age of 40.  While nonpartisan, most of the members tend to be Republicans, although former leaders of YAF went on to found the Libertarian Party and the Taxpayers’ Party.

The emphasis of this group is confrontational and its targets are most often left-wing public demonstrations or rallies.  Self-described “bomb-throwers” (figuratively speaking of course), its goal is to move political parties to the right.  Orange County resident Brian Parks is the current state chairman, however there is no strictly Orange County chapter.  Local alumni of YAF who’ve gone on to elected OC office include [FORMER!!!] congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Ed Royce.

Federation of Calfornia Young Republicans

Awww so cute

As has happened in other volunteer cluns, a  group of YR members became so disillusioned with their organization that in 1993 they formed a parallel group, based in the OC, known as Federation of California Young Republicans.

The new club concentrates on doing precinct work, educating other young people, and recruiting new prospects.  The core membership exceeds 200, which number expands considerably during the partisan election cycles.  Under the leadership of Ken Nelson, the Federation is in harmony with, and encouraged by, the County Committee.

Principles over Politics

Gil F.

Principles Over Politics was formed by Gil Ferguson after his defeat by Ross Johnson in the 1995 contest to replace Marian Bergeson in the special election for the 35th state Senatorial seat.  Ferguson’s grouop is made up primarily from long-time supporters and it differs from most other political volunteer groups in that its purpose is more to inform its supporters rather than motivate them toward support of a particular candidate.

Ferguson, a former State Assemblyman, publishes a newsletter, often laced with critical comments regarding the condition of the Republican Party in the OC.

The group meets on a regular basis and invites various Republicans to present their views at their monthly breakfast gatherings.  Membership contributions are solicited but not mandatory.

Conservative Women’s Leadership Association

As women’s participation in all levels of politics in the OC expanded, it became apparent that single issues were often dividing important blocs of voters.  Pat Bates, Laguna Niguel Counciwoman, had the concept of forming a new organization, which would stress the issues on which the group could agree, rather than concentrating on one or two areas on which women differed.

“Conservative” women Bates and MImi.

Accordingly, after discussions with others in May 1993, it was decided to formally organize as The Conservative Women’s Leadership Association.  In October 1993 the first official board meeting included Pat Bates, Kate Keen, Connie Axon, Mimi Walters [ugh, briefly Congresswoman], Linda Lindholm [now on school board], Carolyn Walters Ben, Karen Kaelin and Gale Rosen.

This group has six general membership meetings per year, and the directors meet monthly.  Membership dues are $50 a year.  They have been quite successful to date with women seeking elected office eager to obtain support from the organization.

Pat Bates was elected to State Assembly in June 1998.  [And since the writing of the book, she served as County Supervisor from 2007 to 2014, and now we’re stuck with her as State Senator.] 

Leisure World Republican Club

A very active group of Republicans in residence at Leisure World in Laguna Hills [now Laguna Woods] participate in the activities of one of the longtime volunteer organizations in the OC.  Their activities include voter contact within the retirement complex, and they are well known for being generous contributors to Republican candidates.

Since many of the individuals living in the gated community are predominantly Republican, GOP hopefuls eagerly seek out invitations to their events.

Probably as a result of the members’ “maturity,” this Republican band of loyalists has avoided the philosophical controversies that have plagued some of the other activist clubs.

California Congress of Republicans

A later spinoff from CRA occurred in 1989 with the formulation of CCR.  [NOT Credence!]  There is an OC chapter of this group, however they did not provide the promised information relative to their local chapter, but they do describe themselves as being decidedly conservative.

Some CRA members question this assertion and it’s difficult to characterize their philosophical tendencies, other than to conclude that they do support Republicans for election to partisan office, and pursue their agenda with enthusiasm and dedication!

Log Cabin Club

Closet cases Bob Dornan and Ken Williams.

A statewide organization for Republicans who, while embracing the broad principles of the Republican Party, do so from the perspective of the gay community, and their focus is on issues pertaining to the rights of homosexuals to fully participate in the political process.  Log Cabin members achieve their goals through fuller involvement in partisan politics, and to that end they have achieved some success and recognition.

This organization supports Republican candidates who share their views, with financial donations and volunteers.  Insofar as can be determined [haha, afraid to go check, Tom?]  their membership is open to all Republicans and they do not consider themselves a single-issue organization.

New Majority Committee

Founded in late 1999, this new group was formed as a moderate alternative to what its organizers view as a rightwing influence on the official GOP County Central Committee. 

Gary Hunt

One of their stated goals is to influence the make-up of the County Central Committee by sponsoring like-minded candidates for election to that body.

Founding members include Lawrence Higby of Apria Health Care, Thomas Tucker, and Gary Hunt, executive vice president of the Irvine Company.  [I remember Gary Hunt – he tried to facilitate the Great Fairgrounds Swindle by convincing Gov. Schwarzenegger to sell the Fairgrounds to a bunch of crooks!]

Dues for the new venture are set at TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR.

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Democratic Central Committee

The history of the Democratic Central Committee of OC [now the DPOC but when and why? – V] goes back years prior to 1960.  Unfortunately information regarding its earliest years is not available in written form and one has to rely on the memories of long-time members.

Former county chairman Bill Thom remembers that Lester Van Tatenhove was the chairman in 1958 and that he headed an active organization.  Thom, mayor of Anaheim in the 70’s, took the reins in 1979 and recalls that all records of previous years had been purged.  The Democrats did not have the resources to hire paid staff, a luxury Republicans enjoyed, and in fact when Thom took over as chairman, the organization was $80,000 in debt!

Mayor Bill Thom!

It took some ingenuity to keep afloat, and Thom, with the aid of one “Franklin Delano Rose,” decided to run a bingo game at the county fairgrounds.  After four days, the fair board discovered the enterprise and requested that the Democrats fold their tent and quietly slip away.  Bad news for the Democrats?  Well not so much,  since in that four-day period they were able to take in enough cash to pay off all debts and start anew!

While the Democratic Central Committee has had some some affluent financial backers, most of the Heavy Hitters are candidate oriented, however their nominees could always rely on help from campaign volunteers working at the direction of the Committee.  In the 70’s and 80’s, Democratic caucus staffers from Sacramento would be assigned (as were their Republican counterparts) to particular races in the county to buttress volunteer efforts.

During this same time, when Democrats controlled the state assembly (a nearly permanent condition), local candidates could rely on the aid of a powerful assembly speaker to round of financial support.  In recent years, the Democrats could also count on receiving financial support  from the Democratic Forum and individual donors, eliminating the necessity to hold fundraisers of their own.

The Democratic Central Committee does not make pre-primary endorsements, but like Republicans it recruits prospects to run for partisan office.

The Democrats are organized along the same lines as the Republicans, with members grouped by assembly district, each of which elects its own officers,  and serves under the County Committee, its board of directors, and chairman.  In the early days, as mentioned in the Preface, many of the most active participants came from the ranks of organized labor.

The assembly district committees provide workers for campaigns and for various volunteer groups.  Any registered Democrat may participate in the activities of these committees, however eligibility to vote and serve as an officer is restricted to Central Committee members.

California Democratic Council

In 1955, Alan Cranston (future Senator) was instrumental in forming a statewide organization that would appeal to Democrats of liberal views.

The great Senator Cranston.

Many activists from both ends of the Democratic political spectrum were dissatisfied with the perceived centrist policies of the official party committees.  Just as conservative Republicans were attracted to the CRA and UROC in the 60’s, so liberal Democrats joined the CDC.

The CDC is organized into three districts, Northern, Central and Southern, and regional councils operate within the three major subdivisions.  Each council has an elected boar that is represented at the state conventions of the CDC, and plays an important role in formulating policy that very often is adopted by the official party state committee.

At the local level, volunteer clubs may be chartered as chapters of the CDC.  [Don’t think this exists any more – V]

Democrats of North Orange County

This particular group is affiliated with the CDC, and has been in existence for over 30 years [since before 1970 then.]  It was founded by Red Blum, and is now one of the most active Democratic groups in the OC.

Meetings are monthly at Fullerton’s Sizzler on North Harbor, and there are over 200 active members whose interests include not only political matters, but also social issues.

The group does not make pre-primary endorsements, but participates in the CDC deliberations at the state level, and has been successful in having an effect on resolutions adopted by the parent organization.  [Still going strong! – V]

United Democratic Club

Active since 1995, the United Democratic Club is also an affiliate of the CDC, and activities are not limited to Orange County.  This organization looks for expertise and cooperation from similar organizations in the three contiguous counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego.

The multi-county approach is based on the political reality that some congressional districts cross county lines, and membership feels that by combining resources it can be more effective in supporting Democratic candidates.

The United Democratic Club meets approximately every six or eight weeks, depending on election cycles and timeliness, for considering important issues.  [Don’t think this exists any more – V]

JFK Good Works Democratic Club

This club, formed in 1997, concentrates on social issues more than strictly partisan political positions.

It does not make pre-primary endorsements but does provide campaign workers for selected candidates who share its views.

This group is probably the only one listed under the partisan category that supports various nonpolitical causes at the discretion of members.  An example is its support of a local youth club, to which it made a cash donation.  [Don’t think this exists any more – V]

Laguna Beach Democratic Club

Formed in 1946, the Laguna Beach Democratic Club is not only one of the oldest volunteer groups in the county;  it is also one of the most active!  The club lists over 110 Democrats as regular members, and has a mailing list of over 500.  Quite impressive, considering that there is also a dues structure.  Activities consist of precinct work registration and maintaining a local headquarters during the four-month-long general-election cycle.  They meet monthly on second Tuesdays.  [Still going strong! – V]

Democratic Foundation

The Democratic Foundation, the counterpart of Republicans’ Lincoln Club, was formed in 1983 by Democratic leaders in the OC.  The founders and members of the first board of directors were Howard Adler, Michael Ray, R. J. O’Neill and David Stein.

The purpose of the organization was to marshal resources for Democratic candidates in Orange County.  While the emphasis of the foundation is in the OC, it does contribute to and support Democrats at the state and national level. 

The Democratic Foundation is a paid-membership organization charging $1000 per year, slightly less than their Republican counterpart.

The group holds monthly board and full membership meetings, usually luncheons, at various locations throughout the county, often featuring a prominent Democratic officeholder.  As the foundation is recognized nationally, it is able to attract guests from the hishest echelons of Democratic politics.

Foundation activities on behalf of Democratic hopefuls consist of direct financial contributions, securing campaign management, and voter registration, and its effectiveness has brought it national recognition.

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American Independent Party

Post-racist Wallace with Jesse J

The AIP was formed as a vehicle for George Wallace‘s 1968 bid for the presidency.  The Democrat Governor of Alabama, he could not have won the official Democratic Party nomination, but he did have sufficient support to qualify the AIP [mainly running on segregation] and run for president as the head of that party’s ticket.

The AIP found sufficient support in the OC to field, as a bonafide party, many candidates for office under its banner.  The AIP flourished for a while with a number of its most active members having been previously involved with various conservative Republican groups.

That ass Schmitz, who at least was funny.

John Schmitz, former South County congressman, ran as the AIP presidential nominee in 1972.  His goal was to keep the AIP as an officially recognized political party by receiving the required one million votes.

Interest and membership in the OC AIP seemed to dwindle as more conservative Republican legislators were elected to office.  In 1998 there were 12,111 persons registered as members of the AIP, but officials at the registrar’s office believe that a considerable number of these thought they were registering as simply “independent,” not as members of the AIP.

Libertarian Party

Sisco Kid was a Libertarian lawyer.

The Libertarian Party of OC was formed in 1973, one year after the formation of a National Libertarian Party.  Kenneth Sisco headed up the party’s formal organization in the county.

Libertarians believe in economic and personal freedom as long as those rights do not interfere with another person’s exercise of those same rights.  They oppose the use of fraud or coercion in depriving individual citizens of their rights.

An interesting aspect of the OC Libertarian Party is that while it has a central committee, voted on by members, not everyone registered as a Libertarian is considered to be a bonafide party regular.

In order to become an official Libertarian in the OC one must pay annual dues of $25 and take a pledge to reduce the scope of government intrusion into the personal and economic affairs of individuals.  In 1998 the Registrar of Voters showed 6836 registered Libertarians; however, the number of accredited members is less because of the above-mentioned requirements.

The Libertarian Party solicits new members, fields candidates for elective offices, and can generally be counted on to oppose tax increases.

Reform Party

The Reform Party, the creation of Ross Perot, received official status in California in 1985, after gathering sufficient signatures to qualify as a bonafide political party.

As of March 1, 1998, there were 10,533 OC voters registered as members of the Reform Party.  The party has four active chapters in the county: one in the north county, one in Laguna, and one in San Clemente.

The broad purpose of the Reform Party is to try to influence elected officials to listen to their citizen constituents rather than to large campaign donors.  It is a grassroots political party, operating without the high overhead of paid staff and expensive headquarters.

In 1998 the Reform Party nominated four statewide candidates, as well as candidates for selected seats in the US congress and the state legislature, and had planned to elect a full complement of members to organize its first OC central  committee… but that selection did not appear on the ballot.

Peace and Freedom Party

The Peace and Freedom Party emerged from the civil rights and Vietnam War protests of the late 60’s.  The statewide organization took on a more organized presence as a political party after a large demonstration at a President Lyndon Johnson fundraising appearance in Century City.

The party took root in the OC in the early 70′.  In 1967, according to Maxine Quirk (head of P&F since 1982), the party’s major positions were grassroots democracy, feminism, ecology, civil rights, and socialism  (The latter has been dropped from their agenda.)

In 1998 there were 3884 OC individuals registered under the P&F banner.  The party has had limited elections to its central committee;  it fields candidates for partisan offices and is active at the local level as well.

The P&F logo is a dove carrying a broken chain, signifying peace and freedom from oppression for all citizens.

Natural Law Party

The Natural Law Party in OC was founded in 1992.  It tends to be apolitical and involves itself in such issues as organic horticulture, environmental concepts based on nature, and opposition to  genetic engineering, and believe that its concept of “natural law” is contained in the US Constitution.

The national party headquarters is located in Iowa, and political activities there are more directed to legislative matters affecting the agenda.

The Natural Law referred to in the party name is not to be confused with the philosophic concept of natural law, as taught by Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.

As of 1998, there were 4489 individuals registered as members of the National Law Party in the OC.

Green Party

The Green Party came into being in the OC in 1992 and, as of 1998, has 3773 registered members.  The goal of the Green Party is to bring people together to discuss matters of mutual interest and concern.  It has ten basic tenets that include ecological wisdom, social justice, feminism,  decentralization of economic power, respect for racial, sexual and political diversity, nonviolence, grass roots democracy, personal responsibility, and future focus.  They meet on a monthly basis.

Forum of Alternative Parties

There’s been a recent attempt on the part of some leadders of independent parties to hold monthly meetings to explore areas in which they share common goals and to discuss issues of mutual interest.

There is guarded optimism that the alternative parties can find common ground for a working relationship, despite divergent views and  philosophies.  The forum is a new concept and meetings began in 1997.

NEXT IN THE SERIES:

  • Non-Partisan Volunteer Organizations
  • Governmental and Quasi-Governmental County Organizations
  • Environmental Volunteer Groups
  • Heavy Hitters!  and more…

 


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About Tom C. Rogers

Tom C. Rogers served courageously in World War II in the United States Army in combat operations throughout the Pacific Theatre. Thanks to his experience as a teenager sailing small boats up and down the Southern California coast and his keen interest in all things having to do with the sea, Tom volunteered for General MacArthur’s new Army amphibian unit. He was assigned to the Army’s 544th Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment of the 4th Special Brigade where he skippered landing craft (LCM) throughout New Guinea and the Philippine Islands, including participation in the first wave of forces to help liberate the Islands from the Japanese. In February 1995, Tom and his Army buddy Jim Bellamy returned to Manila to represent the United States at the Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration events of the liberation of the Philippines. After returning to civilian life and earning a Bachelor’s Degree at Loyola University through the GI Bill, Tom joined millions of other servicemen in realizing the American dream by marrying and starting a family. In 1950 in Santa Barbara, he married Cecile von Rotz, his devoted wife, who was born and raised in Sarnen, Switzerland. While pursuing various business ventures, Tom began his life-long involvement in ranching and political volunteerism. His dedication to the conservation of California’s land resources was the bedrock of both his avocations. Since 1960, Tom was active in Orange County politics and served as Chairman of the Orange County Republican Central Committee from 1969 to 1972. In 1972, he was appointed Chairman of Cal Plan, an arm of the Republican State Committee, which had responsibility for all the California State Assembly and Senate races that year, during the Governorship of Ronald Reagan. Tom also held a number of other volunteer political posts, including Chairman of Citizens Against Unfair Taxation (1984) and Citizens for Sensible Growth (1988). In recent years his efforts have been bi-partisan with an emphasis on limiting growth and taxation. He is considered an environmentalist, and was most proud of his successful efforts to help defeat the attempts to build a new commercial airport at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Tom enjoyed cattle ranching, gardening, and writing scholarly articles. He is a former associate editor of The Wanderer, a leading Catholic weekly newspaper, and he self-published Beach Soldiers, a personal history of amphibian warfare in the South Pacific during WWII. In 2000, he also self-published Agents’ Orange, a political history of Orange County from 1960 through 2000.