Allen Overwhelmingly Beaten in Recall Vote; Baugh Winner : Election: The O.C. assemblywoman was termed a traitor by fellow O.C. Republicans after making deal with Democrats to succeed Willie Brown and become first woman Speaker.
Former Assembly Speaker Doris Allen, targeted by her GOP colleagues for thwarting their drive to control the Legislature’s lower house, was overwhelmingly recalled Tuesday by voters who replaced her with an ardent conservative backed by the Orange County Republican Party.
Allen (R-Cypress), who in June became the Assembly’s first woman Speaker but held the post only slightly more than three months, lost by nearly a 2-1 ratio. Turnout was about 25%.
Allen, who conceded defeat late Tuesday night, said she had been marked for retribution by an “Orange County GOP machine” that could not tolerate her independent voice. She was the third member of the Assembly this year to face a recall election led by state Republican Party leaders as they maneuvered to win control of the lower house.
“I’m not a traitor, if anything quite the opposite,” Allen told 50 supporters at a hotel in Cypress. She called her Republican foes “despicable” and “abominable” and declared: “What can I say. I’m elated. I’m free. It’s over. I feel like Jesus Christ on the cross.”
Allen’s successor in the 67th Assembly District is Scott Baugh, a political newcomer who was distinguished in a crowded Republican field as the most conservative candidate and a protege of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach). Baugh amassed three dozen endorsements from GOP legislative leaders and last week added the support of Gov. Pete Wilson.
Baugh, who campaigned as a staunch foe of abortion, also courted pro-gun and evangelical church groups in a vigorous absentee ballot campaign. He received his largest contributions from the campaign committee run by Pringle and from wealthy Christian philanthropist Howard Ahmanson, who has given at least $1 million in recent years to conservative and anti-abortion causes and candidates.
Final results in the replacement election gave Baugh a 3-2 victory ratio over his closest competitor, lone Democratic candidate Linda Moulton-Patterson.
“It sure feels great to win,” Baugh, 33, a lawyer for Union Pacific Railroad, told a GOP gathering of about 100 at a Huntington Beach hotel. “In 1996 we will carry out the agenda Republicans have been trying to carry out in 1995.”
Allen’s replacement with a so-called “loyal Republican” also portends a possible speakership for Curt Pringle (R-Garden Grove) and takeover of the Assembly by the GOP, which has been out of power in the lower house for two decades, despite having a majority for the last year.
Enraged leaders of the state GOP launched a petition drive in June to force the recall soon after Allen, a little-known legislator for most of her 13 years in office, cut a deal with Assembly Democrats to snatch the Speaker’s post for herself. Allen resigned the speakership Sept. 14.
The current Speaker, Fresno Republican Brian Setencich, who was elected in September with the votes of 39 Democrats along with Allen’s and his own, conceded nothing to Pringle Tuesday. He predicted he will maintain the post in January by adding the support of as many as a dozen Republicans.
“The business of the people suffers at the expense of the partisan power agenda” being pressed by Pringle and other Orange County politicians bent on punishing their one-time colleague, he said.
Pringle on Tuesday night did not declare outright that he would win the speakership, but expressed confidence about the outcome. “The important thing is for us to start moving a Republican agenda,” he said.
Wilson applauded the twin victories. “Doris Allen learned a valuable lesson today,” he said in a statement Tuesday evening. “Californians will accept nothing less than real change in Sacramento. She brought disgrace and dishonor to her public office.”
Despite Baugh’s victory, a cloud hangs over the new Assembly member.
The Orange County district attorney’s office disclosed for the first time Tuesday that it is “investigating Baugh’s ties to former candidate Laurie Campbell” as well as the Baugh campaign’s finance reports, according to Supervising Deputy Dist. Atty. Guy N. Ormes.
Campbell, a Democrat, was ordered off the 67th Assembly District ballot by a Sacramento County Superior Court judge who ruled that her nomination papers had been falsified. It is a felony to falsify campaign spending reports or nomination papers.
Democratic Party leaders have charged in letters to federal, state and local law enforcement officials that her candidacy was “engineered by one or more Republican legislators” to dilute the vote for Moulton-Patterson, a popular Democrat, in the winner-take-all replacement election.
Baugh said he would likely meet early next week with prosecutors. “I think it’s going to be a dead issue,” he said.
Republican leaders and Baugh have denied involvement in Campbell’s candidacy, though Baugh has said he knows Campbell from his church.
Baugh and Moulton-Patterson, a former Huntington Beach mayor, were trailed in Tuesday’s balloting by three Republicans: Former Huntington Beach Mayor Don MacAllister; Haydee Tillotson, a multimillionaire businesswoman who withdrew from the race earlier this month but remained on the ballot; and nurse and school trustee Shirley Carey.
Absentee ballots played a key role in the election; 30,020 people applied for them. About 23,500 absentee ballots were cast, almost 15,000 of them before Nov. 16, the day Tillotson quit the race.
Tillotson was regarded as Baugh’s chief GOP competitor. She raised about $250,000 to Baugh’s $200,000; both far outspent their rivals. Tillotson, however, was pressured to withdraw by Republican leaders who said their private polling showed that Moulton-Patterson was a real threat to Baugh, with Tillotson trailing both by a wide margin.
Tillotson, who declined to endorse anyone in the 12 days after she dropped out, had traded attacks with Baugh in a bitter and expensive mail campaign.
Moulton-Patterson also mounted a late campaign as Democratic leaders in Sacramento debated whether she had a chance to win the seat. In the last month, her campaign poured out a string of mailers, many of them obscuring her links to the Democratic Party.
The recall campaign’s constant drum beat was that Allen was a traitor. The recall petition drive was launched in June by Rohrabacher, and the state and Orange County Republican parties soon endorsed the effort, which eventually raised some $300,000.
GOP leaders, including many of those in Orange County who worked against Allen, had previously contributed heavily to a successful recall against Assemblyman Paul Horcher (I-Diamond Bar) in May and a losing effort to oust Assemblyman Michael Machado (D-Linden) in August.
In fighting back Allen raised a substantial sum--$270,000--but was more than $100,000 in debt in mid-November. By the end of the campaign, Allen could not match the volunteers supplied by the state and county Republican parties.
Ironically, just as voters were choosing a new Assembly member to fill out Allen’s unexpired term, candidates were filing declarations of intention to run in the March 26 primary for that same seat.
Already filed for the seat in northwestern Orange County are Baugh, Carey and Cypress Councilwoman Cecilia L. Age. The deadline to file is today, but could be extended to Monday if Baugh is not sworn in by 5 p.m., according to the secretary of state’s office.
Times staff writers Eric Bailey, Len Hall, Greg Hernandez and Rebecca Trounson and correspondent Russ Loar contributed to this report.
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67th Assembly District Recall Election
Recall: Assemblywoman Doris Allen
100% Precincts Reporting
Votes % Yes 33,326 65.0% No 17,955 35.0% To replace Allen: Scott Baugh (R) 21,465 45.0% Don MacAllister (R) 5,376 11.3% Haydee Tillotson (R) 3,462 7.2% Shirley Carey (R) 2,196 4.6%