Says He’ll Retire Robinson : Dornan Makes Quest for Reelection Official

Times Political Writer

The announcement wasn’t much of a surprise, but nearly a month after he filed for reelection, freshman Congressman Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) formally declared Thursday that he was seeking another two years in Congress.

Before an audience of supporters that included his grandchildren, half a dozen Republican Party leaders and several political candidates, Dornan announced in Santa Ana that he would vigorously defend his 38th District seat against the Democrats.

In the process, he promised with a grin, he would retire the county’s leading Democratic politician from public office.

Dornan was referring to six-term Assemblyman Richard Robinson (D-Garden Grove), who is competing with a political newcomer, Superior Court Judge David O. Carter, to be the Democratic Party’s nominee against Dornan. Robinson is giving up his Assembly seat in an effort to oust Dornan.


Turned to Longshore

Dornan made no mention of Carter. But as his press conference began, Dornan turned to Richard E. Longshore, a Republican candidate who is making his third run at Robinson’s Assembly seat and who came just 256 votes short of beating Robinson in 1984.

“I’m more than happy to take that burden off your hands, to take care of that last liberal in Orange County,” Dornan said. “And thank you for setting him up for me.”

Actually Democrats in Orange County and in Washington have targeted Dornan, 53, for removal this November.


The pro- contra , anti-abortion “New Right” conservative, whose frequent television appearances have given him a national following, moved into Orange County in 1984 after being gerrymandered out of a West Los Angeles congressional seat. Riding to victory with President Reagan, Dornan defeated Rep. Jerry M. Patterson (D-Santa Ana), a widely respected liberal who served five terms in Congress. Ever since, angry Democrats have been laying plans to recapture the seat.

But, flanked by local political leaders including county GOP Chairman Thomas A. Fuentes, Garden Grove Mayor Jonathan H. Cannon and several Vietnamese community officials, Dornan on Thursday vowed to hold it.

Answers Criticism

Responding to criticism by Robinson and Carter that he spends too much time visiting rebels in Central America and has neglected local issues, Dornan claimed his advocacy in Congress had “returned millions of dollars in federal funds into our district.”


Among the funds Dornan said he helped get: funding for the Santa Ana business center, $2 million for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to rehabilitate slum housing in Garden Grove and $1.1 billion in appropriations for the Santa Ana flood control project.

Dornan added that he would be meeting with Gov. George Deukmejian “to map out a more detailed, federal-state strategy” to improve funding for Orange County freeways. “The widening of I-5 remains one of my highest priorities,” he said.

For all his concern about domestic affairs, Dornan noted his staunch support for freedom fighters. “Santa Ana, California, is closer to Santa Ana, El Salvador, than we are to the capital of Washington, D.C., where you asked me to serve,” he said.

Also Dornan said, he would fight for a strong U.S. defense and continued production of the B-1B and Stealth bombers. As the press conference ended, Dornan’s supporters presented him with a birthday cake. A black bomber, outlined in chocolate, was etched on the cake’s white frosting.