The Orange County Republican Central Committee’s tribute earlier this month to former county chairwoman Lois Lundberg came off in typical GOP fashion--dignified, well organized and with no hint of anything other than sweetness and harmony within the ranks.
But while party leaders were commending Lundberg’s years of service and renaming the conference room at GOP headquarters in Orange in her honor, they were also heightening already-existing hostilities among some elected representatives in Sacramento.
The tribute touched a raw nerve because two Orange County Republican lawmakers who presented a legislative resolution congratulating Lundberg for her efforts failed to mention that it had been written by two other legislators.
Assemblywoman Doris Allen (R-Cypress), one of the co-authors , acknowledged that she gave new county party chairman Tom Fuentes “an earful” in an angry telephone call. State Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach), less temperamental than the feisty Allen, sent a letter to Fuentes complaining that the presentation showed “a total lack of class . . . .”
“It is inconsistent with the spirit of unity which is supposed to prevail within our ranks,” Bergeson wrote.
According to sources, party Executive Director Greg Haskin and Chairman Fuentes had recruited Assemblyman John R. Lewis (R-Orange) and state Sen. Ed Royce (R-Anaheim) to present the resolution because neither Allen nor Bergeson attended the affair earlier this month at the party headquarters.
The sources say Fuentes, a public relations specialist with few equals, wanted elected officials--not aides--to make the presentation to Lundberg, a well-liked party activist who in 1977 became the first woman to chair the county party.
“That makes sense. It’s more dignified,” Lewis said last week. He said he cannot understand why Allen or Bergeson would be upset.
But both Allen and Bergeson viewed the presentation as something of a misrepresentation.
In her absence, Allen said, one of her aides should have made the presentation. At the very least, she said, Lewis and Royce should have acknowledged that the resolution, and the commendations in it, were from her and Bergeson.
“They took credit for something that my people had worked very hard on,” said Allen. “Needless to say, I was a little upset.”
Lewis admits he did not mention the authors’ names when he and Royce gave the resolution to Lundberg, but he said the whole thing seems petty to him.
“This thing is ridiculous,” he said. “I just can’t believe anybody said anything about it. When there are far more important issues like taxes, crime and the budget, I can’t get caught up in a controversy about a resolution. I’ve got better uses of my time,” Lewis added.
Meanwhile, Fuentes purports to know nothing of the strained relationship between the Republican officeholders or ofany hard feelings resulting from the presentation of the resolution to Lundberg.
Fuentes did acknowledge, however, that he had sent long-stem roses to Allen and said he may send Bergeson some, too.
“I send flowers to all our Republican ladies,” said the coy Fuentes. “I love them all.”
GOP Ignores Suggestion on Nonpartisan Races
Fuentes is seldom at a loss for words.
But he convinced other central committee members they should simply ignore Democratic Chairman Bruce Sumner’s recent suggestion that the major parties mutually agree not to become involved in nonpartisan races for county and municipal government posts, school boards and judgeships.
No letter. No telephone call. No nothing.
“It doesn’t deserve a response,” said Fuentes.
As if to show Sumner what they think of the idea, however, county Republicans have scheduled “a gala fund-raising reception” May 16 for Tom Riley, Harriett Wieder, Bruce Nestande and Roger Stanton--the four Republican members of the supposedly nonpartisan Orange County Board of Supervisors. And the party is reportedly planning a similar affair for Republican council members from the county’s 26 cities.
Fuentes said Sumner’s suggestion is an obvious ploy to prevent Republicans from flexing their muscle “here in the one county where the Republicans have a majority of registration.”
He said the Democrats were involved in a “conspiracy” with The Times, which ran an editorial supporting Sumner’s suggestion only in its Orange County edition, rather than “its broad circulation, which covers areas where Democrats are in the majority.”
Don Angel, editorial writer and assistant to the editor of The Times’ Orange County Edition, said that, with rare exceptions, editorials he writes appear only in the Orange County edition, as they deal with strictly local issues, and in this case, The Times thought Sumner’s suggestion was a good one for both parties.
Sumner, who issued his challenge after the state Supreme Court ruled last December that nothing in the Constitution forbids party endorsements in nonpartisan races, said the county Republican Party’s refusal to agree to noninvolvement is disappointing.
“Many Republicans as well as Democrats feel . . . that these nonpartisan offices ought not be partisan . . . . It’s too bad. It’s a sad day,” added Sumner, who added that his motives were not politically inspired.
Fuentes, meanwhile, said he was not even aware that Assemblyman Richard Robinson (D-Garden Grove), the county’s only Democratic representative in the state Assembly, is sponsoring a bill this year that would accomplish statewide, at least for judicial races, what Sumner is proposing in Orange County. Robinson’s bill, which has already passed the Assembly, has received surprising bipartisan support in Sacramento.
After surpassing Democrats in four counties last year, California Republicans now have registration leads in seven of the state’s 58 counties----Orange, San Diego, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Nevada, Inyo and Mono.
Robinson-Longshore Campaign Was Costliest
When the outcome was finally determined and the champagne flowed on election night, those around Assemblyman Richard Robinson (D-Garden Grove) knew they had been in an exhausting and expensive fight.
The powerful and immodest Democratic assemblyman, who when all votes were counted had defeated Republican challenger Richard Longshore by only 256 votes, boasted that he had spent more money to get out the voters in his central Orange County district than presidential aspirant Walter Mondale had in the whole state.
Last week, the state Fair Political Practices Commission issued a report showing that the Robinson-Longshore race was the most expensive Assembly battle in the state last year.
The two candidates spent a combined total of $781,217, most of it by incumbent Robinson.
Only Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) received more in political contributions than the $576,585 taken in by Robinson.
Robinson, who had the toughest fight of his political life in the race against Longshore, even raised nearly $45,000 more than Assemblyman Robert Naylor (R-Menlo Park), who was Assembly minority leader at the time. Like Brown, Naylor had to spread his wealth around to help elect other party cohorts.
Judges Circle Wagons Against Challengers
The five judges of Orange County’s Harbor Municipal Court whose terms end next year make unlikely political allies. The two Democrats and three Republicans initially were appointed to the bench by three different California governors--Ronald Reagan and the junior and senior Edmund G. Browns.
But Frances Munoz, Selim (Bud) Franklin, Brian Carter, Calvin Schmidt and Christopher Strople have agreed to ban together in an attempt to scare off electoral challenges.
The five have hired well-known Republican political consultants Bob Nelson and Eileen Padberg to get an early start on their campaigns. At a fund-raiser last month at the Santa Ana Country Club, the group picked up about $40,000.
So far, there are no announced challengers for any of the judges. But the “rumor on the street” is that someone may take on Munoz because as a woman with a Mexican surname, she is viewed as vulnerable in the conservative judicial district that includes Newport Beach, Irvine and Costa Mesa.
But anyone thinking that way might be discouraged by the results of the 1980 election--Munoz’s first--when she polled more than 71% of the votes in turning back a challenge by Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Pear.