A behind-the-scenes look at Orange County's political life : And Now, Here Are the Winners of Campaign Highlights Awards . . .

As the June primary campaign season draws to a close, Politics '94 issues awards for some campaign highlights and dedicates this column to the candidates whose names will appear on Tuesday's ballot.


Zeke and Ted's Excellent Adventure Award: To Democratic candidates Zeke Hernandez, a businessman, and Ted R. Moreno, a Santa Ana councilman, who gave us vintage intraparty animosity as they sparred and jabbed relentlessly in the 69th Assembly District race.

Hernandez accused the Santa Ana councilman of everything from offering bribes to get him out of the race to overbilling taxpayers for home exercise equipment. Moreno charged that Hernandez illegally taped a phone conversation the pair had. With only two campaign days left, we're holding onto our seats for the grand finale in this Democratic primary race that also features two other Democrats--Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce President Mike Metzler and Santa Ana businessman John M. Patterson.


Most Enlightening Television Debate Award: To KOCE-TV's free-for-all debate in the same 69th Assembly District race that featured the nine Democratic, Libertarian and Republican candidates bunched up together on the same platform.

The audience could learn plenty about the candidates--not just from their stated positions on the issues, but from their behavior on the program. Sweaty brows and mudslinging were standard fare during the one-hour program that had many low lights, including Moreno's claim that one of his Democratic opponents, Metzler, should not be preaching "family values" because he got a divorce and remarried. Tell that to former President Ronald Reagan.

There were many other unforgettable moments. Patterson, the Democrat, intending to criticize the political baggage of the other candidates, said: "Everybody sitting here is bringing something to the table. I am the only candidate that brings nothing."


Postwar Hero Award: To Rep. Jay C. Kim (R-Diamond Bar), whose recent mailer included a letter by Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas) stating that Kim "served side-by-side with U.S. troops in Korea." Opponents cried foul, claiming it was impossible for Kim to have served in the Korean War since he would have been only 11 years old at the time. But the congressman's office said Kim--the first Korean American elected to Congress--joined the Korean military after the war when he was 17, serving alongside U.S. troops.


Missing in Action Award: To Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove), who was strangely missing in action during the primary season.

Dornan, who has earned a national following from his zesty appearances on C-SPAN and as a guest host on the Rush Limbaugh radio talk show, was all over the place two years ago while producing a double-digit drubbing of primary rival Judith Ryan, the darling of abortion rights activists.

This year, Dornan, running unopposed in the primary, stayed put in Washington, to the chagrin of "politiholics" who can't get enough of the congressman's ravings and revelations. But he was busy behind the scenes, anticipating the winner of the six-way shootout in the Democratic primary. Dornan amassed a $473,000 war chest this year--at least seven times the amount raised by the best-financed Democrat.


Missing in Action 2 Award: To Huntington Beach Mayor Linda Moulton Patterson, who is running for the 2nd District seat on the County Board of Supervisors. "She is not in the office. She is running for county supervisor and has left instructions that she won't be back in the office until after the primary," a City Hall staff member told a caller last week.


Most-Sought-After Endorsement Award: To state Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach), whose name keeps popping up on campaign brochures and letters on behalf of Republican candidates Marilyn C. Brewer and Thomas G. Reinecke in the 70th Assembly District race, even though Bergeson continues to proclaim her neutrality in that race.


Most Prolific Criminal Award: To the dark-haired man aiming a gun in a recent campaign mailer sent out by Irvine Councilman Barry J. Hammond, one of three Republican candidates in the 70th Assembly District race. "He just got out of prison . . . and he's in your neighborhood," the caption reads.

But the "gunman" also seems to be elsewhere in Orange County. The same photo with the same caption appeared a few days later in a campaign brochure for Jim Morrissey, a Republican candidate in the 69th Assembly District race.


P.C. Award: These are politically correct times, so who better for this award than Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Garden Grove).

Umberg, who is running for state attorney general, wins the award because he returned a $40,000 check from a casino owned by the Morongo Indians. Umberg's handlers said they worried the money could be considered "tainted" because the casino's outside management team was served with federal indictments. Undeterred, they expressed hope that the group would make another campaign contribution from an account not associated with the casino.


Rhythm Stick Award: To the tagger who scrawled "Spank Me" on the front entrance to the district office of Assemblyman Mickey Conroy in Orange, after the Republican lawmaker sponsored a bill that would require public paddlings of convicted juvenile graffiti vandals.

Compiled by Times political writers Gebe Martinez and Eric Bailey, with contributions from staff writers Kevin Johnson and Rick Holguin.

Politics '94 appears every Sunday.

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