<i> A behind-the-scenes look at Orange County’s political life</i> : Huffington Seeks Votes of Fiscal Conservatives Within the Perot Camp

Removing labels: Conservative Republicans aren’t in love with Rep. Michael Huffington (R-Santa Barbara), who is heading into the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Dianne Feinstein. Huffington, however, is trying to win the backing of Orange County’s fiscal conservatives--those who supported Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential bid.

Huffington recently met in Costa Mesa with Roland A. Boucher, one of the local coordinators for Perot’s United We Stand America, hoping to line up support.

“Many people in United We Stand are either former Republicans or conservative Democrats, and that’s the group I am reaching out to,” Huffington said.

Boucher said the former Perot supporters are in demand because they made up almost one-fourth of all the votes cast in Orange County in the last presidential election. One Republican candidate in the June 7 primary for the Senate seat, Riverside County businesswoman Kate Squires, also has approached the group. But the third GOP candidate, former Rep. William E. Dannemeyer of Fullerton, hasn’t called in yet.


Boucher said that while the group won’t be endorsing candidates this year, they are making plans to set up a forum for statewide candidates.


Aire Caliente: The exporting business can be pretty tricky and complicated, especially when it comes to the esoterica of utility companies. Now, with the dawning of NAFTA, where can a state assemblyman get a crash course on how to help California companies export cogeneration and wind-powered equipment for utilities?

Why, in Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Santiago, Chile, of course.


And that’s just where Assemblyman Mickey Conroy (R-Orange) and other members of the Assembly and state Senate utility committees traveled last year for two weeks, courtesy of a San Francisco nonprofit group called California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy.

Conroy recently reported the $7,447.13 trip on the annual economic disclosure form required of all legislators. It was the biggest gift reported by local legislators.

The trip featured meetings with cabinet ministers and other politicos from those countries to discuss a variety of issues dealing with utilities. Pete Conaty, Conroy’s chief of staff, said the assemblymen also explored the potential of sharing cross-border utility services under NAFTA.

“He enjoyed the trip,” Conaty said, adding that “it was mainly business. They kept a very busy schedule.”


Wishful thinking?: Republicans may rule in Orange County, but the Democratic Party has trotted out a poll that attempts to scuttle GOP dreams of domination.

The poll, commissioned by the Democratic Foundation of Orange County, suggests that residents of Democrat-rich central Orange County have an overall favorable opinion of President Clinton (50% favorable versus 42% unfavorable) as well as Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls Kathleen Brown (42% to 13%) and John Garamendi (50% to 14%). The same poll found that county residents look unfavorably at Gov. Pete Wilson (42% to 47%).

Almost 70% hadn’t heard of state Sen. Rob Hurtt (R-Garden Grove), and of those who did, only 10% thought he was doing a good or excellent job compared to the 21% who rated his performance as fair or poor. Assemblyman Curt Pringle also got crummy marks--only 19% felt he was doing a good or excellent job, while 33% ranked him as fair or poor.


After seeing the results, Orange County GOP Chairman Thomas A. Fuentes noted that polls can be skewed by how one asks the questions. He also suggested that the only important number is voter registration, where Republicans hold a 200,000-voter countywide edge over Democrats.

“We always hear the puff from local Democrats about how well they are going to do,” Fuentes said. “Then, the day after the election they’re running for cover with their tails between their legs.”


Being neighborly: In an unusual move, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich is reaching across the county line to help Huntington Beach Councilman Jim Silva in his campaign for the Orange County supervisorial seat now held by Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder, who is retiring.

Antonovich recently mailed out a letter stating Silva is the best candidate to help reverse the “anti-business trend of government.”


* Tuesday: Democrat Brett Williamson, who is running in the 45th Congressional District race, is hosting a campaign kick-off at 20800 Beach Blvd., Suite 100, Huntington Beach, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

* Thursday: Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) addresses the noon luncheon of the Orange County Coast Assn. at the Newport Dunes in Newport Beach.


Gift Bag

State lawmakers had to report gifts they accepted in 1993. A sampling of items collected by the Orange County delegation:

Assemblyman Curt Pringle

(R-Garden Grove)

* Super Bowl tickets

Sen. John R. Lewis


* USC football season tickets

* Assorted basketball and hockey tickets

* $150 worth of baseball cards

* Golf putter

Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Garden Grove)

* UCLA, USC season football tickets

* Hockey and basketball tickets

* $135 worth of Angels parking passes

* Athletic club membership

Assemblyman Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach)

* Passes to ARCO tailgate bash before USC-UCLA game

Sen. Rob Hurtt

(R-Garden Grove)

* USC football season tickets

Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach)

* Two circus tickets

* $125 glass teddy bear

Assemblyman Ross Johnson (R-Fullerton)

* Four circus passes

Assemblywoman Doris Allen (R-Cypress)

* Poinsettia

* Box of chocolates

Times staff writers Eric Bailey and Kevin Johnson contributed to this report.

Politics ’94 appears every Sunday.