Elated by victory in Illinois this week, seven California supporters of ultraconservative presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche called a press conference on Friday to make it known that they too are running for office and to contend that the surprise Illinois election of two LaRouche-backed candidates was "no fluke."
"We are going to take over the Democratic Party," promised Joe Alcoset, who is challenging Democrat Rep. Julian C. Dixon in the 28th Congressional District in Los Angeles. "Illinois is just the beginning."
The event that brought Alcoset and his ideological colleagues to the Greater Los Angeles Press Club were the victories of Mark Fairchild, 28, and Janice A. Hart, 32, over party-backed candidates in the Illinois Democratic primary on Tuesday. Fairchild won the nomination for lieutenant governor and Hart for secretary of state.
Politicians and academics attributed the pair's election victories to party lethargy, lackadaisical campaigning and an inattentive news media. However, LaRouche ally Kevin Zondervan, who is seeking the Democratic nomination against Rep. Mervyn M. Dymally of Compton in the 31st Congressional District, told reporters in Los Angeles that he sees Illinois as a trend.
"And, as soon as the voters in this state get the straight picture of what the LaRouche candidates represent, I think you will find many of us gaining in popularity and being voted in office," he said.
Zondervan, who once ran for the California Assembly against Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica), said that about 200 LaRouche-backed candidates will be seeking county, state and national office in the June primary.
In Orange County, meanwhile, distraught leaders of the Democratic Party made plans Friday to support a write-in candidate against Art Hoffman, 29, a LaRouche follower, who they belatedly realized is running unopposed for the party's nomination in the 40th Congressional District, a seat now held by five-term Republican Robert E. Badham of Newport Beach.
If Hoffman wins the Democratic nomination in the primary, he will automatically have a seat on the county and state Democratic central committees.
"I feel it's important for a party to be represented by people who are truly part of the mainstream of the party, " said Bruce Sumner, chairman of the Democratic Central Committee of Orange County.
Hoffman, a technical writer from Santa Ana, described the proposed write-in effort as unethical. He is a member of LaRouche's National Democratic Policy Committee. The committee is not an official unit of the Democratic Party, although its members are registered as Democrats. It is composed of LaRouche followers who describe it as a political action group.
LaRouche, 64, of Leesburg, Va., has been advanced by the policy committee as a 1988 candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. He has been running for President either as a nominee of the U.S. Labor Party or as a Democrat since 1972. He has also urged his supporters to run in local elections.
In a recent "state of the union" speech, LaRouche warned that the nation is heading for "mass death and depopulation" because of the economy, the Gramm-Rudman deficit-cutting law and tax reform. Nothing short of a "lynch mob" of angry citizens running for office could save the United States from complete economic breakdown and Soviet world domination, he maintained.
LaRouche's rhetoric was echoed at Friday's press conference.
Dorothy Andromidas, a Democratic candidate for the 20th Congressional District seat now held by Rep. William M. Thomas (R-Bakersfield), said in response to a question about the vociferous campaign style of LaRouche candidates that Americans have forgotten how to really influence politics.
"They sit back there, and it's a football game. The main thing is that people used to enjoy politics. . . . People used to hang their congressman in effigy all the time. We say, 'Support your local congressman. Hang him with a rope.' We mean just exactly that. Co1852273253Anybody who sat back and either did nothing or supported Gramm-Rudman is a traitor," she said. "We're not politicians. We're citizen candidates."
Reminded that some Democratic Party politicians are talking about excluding LaRouche candidates on grounds that they are extremists, not Democrats, Andromidas said she thought that Democratic leaders were "making fools out of themselves."
"If the Democratic Party leadership wants to look foolish by disenfranchising the Democratic voter . . . they're are going to be sorry. That is really insane."
Mary Hughes, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said in a telephone interview from Northern California Friday that, "Illinois is a fluke."
"In California, we are lucky to have had Illinois as a warning. Just because they claim to be Democrats doesn't mean they adhere to Democratic principles," she said.
The party is planning to identify the LaRouche-backed candidates for the county committees, political clubs and grass-roots activists and "to educate people what the LaRouche followers stand for," she said.
Other LaRouche candidates attending Friday's press conference included Henry Gamboa, a Republican, running for the 56th Assembly District seat occupied by Gloria Molina, a Los Angeles Democrat; Marion Hundley, a Democrat who is challenging John R. Lewis of Orange in the 67th Assembly District; Maureen Pike, a Democrat running in the 39th Congressional District, and Louis Steeg, a Republican candidate in the 43rd Assembly District.