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Friends Did Dornan a Favor by Politely Ignoring Request

TIMES STAFF WRITER

As a champion of the conservative causes embraced by the California Republican Assembly, Orange County Rep. Robert K. Dornan was obviously among friends Saturday in Oakland when he asked for the group’s endorsement of his 1996 presidential campaign.

But instead of granting his request, his allies did him a favor: They decided not to even nominate Dornan for the CRA’s official backing, thus saving him the embarrassment of losing a vote in his home state, CRA members said privately.

With delegates arguing over conservative candidates likely to win the nomination, Dornan was not expected to fare well in the delegate count, despite his close philosophical ties to the group.

Dornan himself has acknowledged the long odds he faces in the 10-man Republican field, though he is still intent on fighting for the nomination while also seeking reelection to his congressional seat.

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In a show of allegiance to Dornan, the almost 400 voting delegates took no position on his presidential campaign, and instead rose in a voice vote backing his return to Congress.

Dornan was not present when names were placed into nomination Sunday and it was unclear whether the secondary resolution was offered at his behest. He did not return telephone calls Monday.

CRA President Jon Fleischman of Orange County said the group’s vote should not be considered anything but a show of support for Dornan. “We all love Bob Dornan and he’s our hero,” Fleischman said.

As it turned out, other candidates did not fare much better after five hours of voting that ended in deadlock. Commentator Pat Buchanan fell short of the two-thirds vote needed to secure the group’s support; Alan Keyes of Maryland came in second.

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