Ex-Speaker Allen Loses Recall by Wide Margin : Orange County: GOP assemblywoman is ousted by almost 2-1. Conservative Scott Baugh will replace her.
Former Assembly Speaker Doris Allen, targeted by her GOP colleagues for thwarting their drive to control the Legislature’s lower house, was recalled by an overwhelming margin Tuesday.
Voters in the northwest Orange County district also elected an ardent conservative backed by the county Republican Party as Allen’s successor.
Allen (R-Cypress), who in June became the Assembly’s first woman Speaker but held the post for only three months, was recalled by almost a 2-1 ratio. The final, unofficial vote was 33,326 to 17,955.
Allen contended that she was marked for retribution by an “Orange County GOP machine” that could not tolerate her independent voice. She was the third Assembly member this year to face a recall election led by state Republican Party leaders as they fought to win control of the lower house.
“I’m not a traitor, if anything quite the opposite,” Allen told 50 undeterred supporters at a hotel in Cypress. She called her Republican foes “despicable” and “abominable” and declared: “I’m proud of what we’ve done, of being the first woman Speaker.”
Allen’s replacement by a so-called “loyal Republican” 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. She soon began to use her new clout against some of her Republican enemies.
But 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, predicts that he will maintain the post in January by adding the votes of as many as a dozen Republicans.
Allen’s successor in Orange County’s 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 during his three-month campaign and last week added the support of Gov. Pete Wilson.
Baugh, who describes himself as an anti-abortion candidate, 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.
Baugh easily defeated his nearest competitor, Democrat Linda Moulton-Patterson, 21,465, or 44.9%, to 15,200, or 31.8%.
“We are extremely excited and optimistic,” Baugh, 33, a lawyer for Union Pacific railroad, told a GOP gathering of about 100 in Huntington Beach.
Despite Baugh’s victory, a cloud hangs over his campaign. 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.
Baugh said he probably would meet early next week with prosecutors. “I think it’s going to be a dead issue,” he said.
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.
Republican leaders and Baugh have denied involvement in Campbell’s candidacy.
Baugh and Moulton-Patterson, a former Huntington Beach mayor, were trailed in Tuesday’s balloting by three Republicans: Haydee Tillotson, a multimillionaire businesswoman who withdrew from the race earlier this month but remained on the ballot; former Huntington Beach Mayor Don MacAllister, and nurse and school trustee Shirley Carey.
Absentee ballots played a key role in the election; 30,020 people applied for them. About 22,500 absentee ballots were cast, almost 15,000 of them before Nov. 16, the day Tillotson abruptly announced she was quitting the race.
Tillotson, regarded as Baugh’s chief GOP competitor, 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 attack mail 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.
The recall campaign’s constant drumbeat 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 about $300,000.
Allen fought back and raised a substantial sum--$270,000--but was more than $100,000 in debt in mid-November. By the end of the campaign, the Allen forces could not match the volunteers generated by the state and county Republican parties.
One of Allen’s arguments against the recall was that she is due to leave the Assembly under term limits in the fall of 1996.