Doris Tate, a conservative Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for Republican Gerald N. Felando's 51st Assembly District seat last year, has been ousted from her posts on the county and state Democratic Central Committees for publicly stating during the campaign that she planned to vote for President Reagan. The posts, which Tate automatically received after her victory in the June primaries, were given to Jon Mercant, a Redondo Beach attorney and liberal activist whom Tate defeated for the Democratic nomination.
Tate, of Rancho Palos Verdes, said she will challenge her removal on the grounds that she was not given a chance to defend her position and that she has a constitutional right to vote her personal preferences in a general election, no matter what her party registration.
She said a letter notifying her of the impending action by Democratic leaders was mailed to a wrong address in Torrance and did not reach her until Jan. 28, two weeks after her ouster.
During the campaign, Democratic loyalists made no secret of their displeasure with Tate's conservative platform and, according to Tate, gave virtually no support to her candidacy. Felando easily defeated her in the general election, receiving 68% of the vote to Tate's 29%.
However, Tate's support for stricter law enforcement, a strong national defense and other conservative positions, Democratic officials said, was not the issue in removing her from the committee posts. They said she violated fundamental party rules by publicly backing a Republican candidate.
Tate, mother of slain actress Sharon Tate, countered that party leaders had no right to remove her, because she was chosen by Democratic voters in the district. "You can be a conservative and still be a Democrat," she said. "There are a lot of conservative Democrats out there who want to be represented too."
Tate said she had to complete paper work on her 1984 campaign before making specific plans to challenge her ouster from party councils. She acknowledged that she has had little enthusiasm for participating in party affairs and indicated that she may switch her registration to the Republican side "if I feel I can no longer make a contribution where I am."