Speaker Brown Hosts Swinging Dinner : 600 at His Fund-Raiser Sample Steaks, Comedy, Rock Music

Times Staff Writer

This isn't a statewide election year, but Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) didn't let that stop him from throwing a $350,000 black-tie fund-raising dinner this week to collect money to help elect other lower-house Democrats in 1986.

Those other Democrats, of course, are expected to respond by picking Brown to retain what is generally regarded as the second most powerful position in state government, next to governor.

Six hundred-plus people, including top lobbyists and legislative leaders of both political parties, packed the Memorial Auditorium here to eat a $500-a-plate steak dinner and munch on giant strawberries dipped in chocolate for dessert.

Take Their Shots

The guests laughed at the jokes of comedian Will Durst, who said Republican Gov. George Deukmejian "has the personality of a human speed bump," but that compared to Democratic Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy, Deukmejian looked "wired."

Durst described state Sen. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove), who is expected to run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination next year, as a "Kennedy without the batteries."

Entertainer Melba Moore sang songs such as "Read My Lips" and "Good Things Come to Those Who Wait." And there was dancing to the rock music of the Tower of Power and Jamco at the auditorium, which was decorated in a circus merry-go-round motif.

Exactly how much money Brown will net from the Thursday night party is unknown until the bills are paid, but there were numerous donations of goods and services.

'More Than They Know'

"This is a low-budget operation," the Assembly leader told the audience. "A whole lot of people gave more than they know they have given."

The Speaker, who has not had a serious election challenger in years and insists he is happy with his current job, is expected to use the money he raised to support other Democrats.

A large number of Republican legislators attended the event on a complimentary ticket basis.

They included Assembly Minority Leader Pat Nolan of Glendale and GOP Caucus Chairman Gerald N. Felando of San Pedro. Sens. William Campbell of Hacienda Heights and Ken Maddy of Fresno also were on hand.

Not everyone wore formal dress to the dinner party, however. Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) showed up in a traditional blue blazer, gray slacks and regimental striped tie. "I didn't have the money to rent a tux," Hayden quipped.

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