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Lagunan chosen as alternate delegate at RNC

Longtime Laguna Beach resident Frank Ricchiazzi has been selected as an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) and John Campbell (R-Irvine), and former Gov. Peter Wilson recommended Ricchiazzi to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's committee as an alternate from Laguna's congressional district.

Ricchiazzi has been active in politics since he co-founded the Log Cabin Republicans in 1977-78. The group works to make the party more inclusive, especially on gay and lesbian issues, according to its website. Ricchiazzi continues to serve on the board as an emeritus member.

He served as assistant director of the Department of Motor Vehicles in Sacramento for more than six years starting in 1991, when Wilson was elected.

Known to friends and local Republicans as "Uncle Frank," Ricchiazzi also co-founded the Laguna Beach Republicans in 1992.

He has lived in Laguna Beach since 1988 with his partner of 26 years, Borden Moller.

"Being named an alternate delegate is a huge honor, when you consider the people in our district," Ricchiazzi said Monday, during a phone call from Florida.

"The delegates are former Ambassador to Spain George Argyros, Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh and Mitt Romney's brother," he said.

Monday was a free day for the delegates. The session was canceled due to concerns about what was then Tropical Storm Isaac. It was upgraded to a hurricane Tuesday morning.

"We got to hear Gov. Christie [Monday] morning," Ricchiazzi said. "He is somebody who really tells it like it is."

The New Jersey governor sharply criticized California voters for electing Gov. Jerry Brown and suggested they should have elected Meg Whitman instead.

That afternoon, delegates were shown "2016: Obama's America," a controversial documentary produced by Gerald R. Molen, based on two books by Dinesh D'Souza, one of which has not yet been released.

"I'd recommend everyone see it," said Ricchiazzi, who is no fan of President Obama.

A Log Cabin get-together was scheduled for Monday night.

Ricchiazzi was approached earlier in the day by a television reporter, who asked him how he could support Romney, who is opposed to gay marriage.

Ricchiazzi said he was outraged.

"Four years ago, the Democratic candidate also was antigay marriage," Ricchiazzi said. "He allowed his voice to be on a robo-call to registered voters telling them not to support gay marriages.

"How dare the Democrats who enthusiastically supported him four years ago ask me that question.

"When you grow up in a large extended Sicilian family … one thing I knew is that I was loved — and my family loves Borden, but they are still Roman Catholics. Are they bigots or antigay, or have they just not evolved yet?"

The weather was a less fraught topic.

Ricchiazzi stayed at the oceanfront Tradewinds hotel outside of St. Petersburg, a 30-minute drive across a bridge from Tampa.

"Looking out my window at the beach, the waves are about 10 feet high and the sky has two colors: a dark, grayish blue and then a layer of black," Ricchiazzi said. "There are only about seven people on the beach in the good mile that I can see."

However, with Issac veering away from Tampa toward New Orleans, Ricchiazzi didn't expect the weather to dampen the spirit at the convention.

As expected, Romney was named the GOP candidate Tuesday.

"The roll call vote was very exciting," Ricchiazzi said by phone during a break.

"But what was really interesting was when the roll call got to Wisconsin and Gov. [Scott] Walker introduced himself, the audience erupted for five minutes."

Walker had survived a recall after he stripped collective bargaining rights from most public employee unions in Wisconsin, making him a star in the conservative firmament.

"He turned around a $3-million deficit," Ricchiazzi said. "He told school unions that they would no longer control school systems. He said there would be no raising of taxes and we want unions to start paying 5% of their health insurance."

The convention was expected to end Thursday with Romney's acceptance speech.


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