2 Female Candidates Ask Aid of Influential Women


In a county where female candidates have long complained of being ostracized by the male-dominated political establishment, two survivors of the June primary urged a bipartisan women’s group Thursday to raise money and help break down the barriers that keep women from being elected.

The spirited program, which included verbal attacks against Orange County Republican Chairman Thomas A. Fuentes and other local conservatives, was sponsored by Women in Leadership, a fledging bipartisan group of moderate women who favor abortion rights.

Members of the group donated $15,000 to the campaign of Republican Marilyn C. Brewer, who won the nomination in the 70th Assembly District, and to Democrat Linda Moulton Patterson, who faces Republican Jim Silva in a November runoff for the nonpartisan Board of Supervisors District 2 seat.


“Frankly, this race is about power, and it’s about the good ol’ boys system. . . . They don’t want me on that Board of Supervisors,” Moulton Patterson told the group of 80 Democratic and Republican women at the Pacific Club.

Moulton Patterson also called on the group to work against Silva, who she asserted was the top vote-getter in the primary because he had mobilized the “radical religious right” and was backed by Reps. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach).

“What we have to do is let everyone know--and especially women--that this is about them and they must go out and vote,” Moulton Patterson said.

Brewer, a founding member of the group, credited the membership for its help during her primary campaign.

But Brewer, who was criticized during her campaign for not being conservative enough, distanced herself from the harsh rhetoric against party conservatives by other speakers. She explained later that she is trying to “build unity and to be a part of the Republican Party in this county.”

“I am a mainstream conservative candidate who happens to be a woman, although I did not run on the platform of being a woman,” Brewer told the group during her speech. “I just happened to be a woman who had the right stuff at the right time. . . . I also happened to be a candidate who is pro-choice, but I did not run as a pro-choice candidate.”



Complaints against conservative, male-dominated politics are not uncommon. Two years ago, Republican moderates--feeling disenfranchised from the local GOP--crossed party lines to support then-candidate Bill Clinton’s campaign. Moderates also backed the unsuccessful 1992 Republican campaign of congressional candidate Judith Ryan, who challenged Dornan in the 46th Congressional District.

During Thursday’s discussion, Republican political consultant Eileen Padberg, who managed Ryan’s campaign, said abortion rights backers have “often felt pretty alone, particularly in the Republican Party--and I have all the scars on my back to prove it.”

Padberg implored the group to support Moulton Patterson’s campaign. “We have got to stand up for her,” she said. “This is about power and just don’t forget it. Keep your eye on the ball.”

Padberg also urged the group to recruit candidates for city council races “because the (Republican) party is not going to help any of you. There’s a number of candidates that were going to run for office and were threatened and abused by none other than our county chairman.”

Padberg noted that Fuentes has yet to convene a meeting with the two conservative candidates who lost to Brewer to urge them to endorse the party’s nominee. The losing candidates were Thomas G. Reinecke, the GOP’s local vice chairman, and Irvine Councilman Barry J. Hammond.

Reinecke said this week that he is “keeping open his options” as he and his allies consider whether to run a write-in candidacy against Brewer in the November election.


In a later interview, Fuentes fired back, pointing out that Orange County Republicans had elected state Sen. Marian Bergeson of Newport Beach, Doris Allen of Cypress, and nominated Jo Ellen Allen, who lost a race two years ago against Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Garden Grove). All three are anti-abortion.

“Don’t tell me that the Republican Party is not the party of leadership for women in this community,” Fuentes said. “The problem that some liberal women have is that many of the women who take roles of leadership in the Republican Party are conservative women, and they are opposed to conservative women having a role of leadership.”

Brewer, the party’s first abortion-rights advocate to be nominated for a legislative seat in 22 years, also was the first woman to be nominated in the 70th Assembly District after five previous attempts by other women to unseat Assemblyman Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach). Ferguson decided not to seek reelection, but instead plans to seek a seat in the state Senate.

Fuentes said he was examining whether other party leaders would be violating their rules if they backed a write-in candidate in the 70th Assembly District instead of Brewer.

About Moulton Patterson, Fuentes said: “She knows very well that her message as a strident liberal Democrat is not viable in the Orange County community, and so she’s trying to interject sexism and friction between men and women rather than have the light of day on the fact that she is a partisan liberal Democrat attempting to get elected.”