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Revenge Has Its Day--Again : First Horcher, now Allen: GOP-backed recall is proving to be a sharp ax

The vengeful use of the recall has proved its effectiveness once again as an enforcer of party discipline in the state Assembly. On Tuesday, former Speaker Doris Allen (R-Cypress) suffered the same fate that last May befell a Republican colleague, Paul Horcher of Diamond Bar.

Allen, like Horcher, was targeted by her own party for making deals on the speakership with the Democrats and especially with the longtime object of their enmity, former Speaker Willie Brown. Republicans statewide poured money and volunteers into the Allen recall effort, and she was overwhelmingly rejected in favor of the most conservative candidate in the race, political novice Scott Baugh.

For those who believe they will now get a “real Republican” as Speaker, however, there is uncertainty ahead. Brian Setencich, a freshman Republican from Fresno who succeeded Allen in the speakership, is seeking to line up support from Democrats and some Republicans to retain the post in the face of a challenge by Assembly GOP Leader Curt Pringle of Garden Grove when the chamber reconvenes in January.

All of this makes for interesting political theater, but it leaves the Assembly Republicans, who in 1994 won a majority for the first time in 25 years, still in search of leadership that will inspire a vision. They will no longer have Brown to focus their attention. The GOP has an ideologically committed conservative base in Orange County, but the party, heavily influenced by the so-called cavemen for years, has yet to demonstrate legislative direction in Sacramento that might play to broader constituencies.

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The recall has sent a powerful and disturbing message that intimidation can work. But with more squabbling likely, the state continues to await effective GOP leadership in the Assembly. Allen: Ousted from Assembly for her ties to the Democrats.


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