I’VE BEEN THINKING about the curious and mysterious way that Tom Fuentes has made and still makes a living—and then I remembered a great piece about Tom from about ten years ago: “Dear Mr. Fuentes: letters to the most powerful Republican in Orange County, California."
Writer Nathan Calahan (that’s a pseudonym) is a close friend of a close friend. I’ve met him a few times; he and I always seem to argue. He used to work for the OC Weekly.
Well, back in 2000, he wrote a marvelous piece about his year-long correspondence (of sorts) with then-GOP chief Fuentes. In truth, the piece is an overview of Fuentes the man and his odd ways—you know, threatening to destroy people, that sort of thing. Mind you, Nathan wrote this four or five years before Fuentes’ fall—i.e., his ouster from the chairmanship of the County Party in 2004. But, as you’ll see (if you read Nathan’s piece), the knives were already out back in 2000.
Nathan’s piece has it’s highlights—especially his suggestion, to pen pal Tom, that he exploit the, um, absurd rumor that Tom is gay—for political gain.
But I thought of Nathan’s article because of something else. Here’s one of Nathan’s letters to Tom:
Dear Mr. Fuentes,
Boy, you must be busy. I completely understand why you haven't sent me your autographed photo yet. You've been out registering new Republicans ever since that Sept. 24 Orange County Register story appeared! What a headline!
REPUBLICANS DIP BELOW 50 PERCENT IN REGISTERED VOTERS FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1984.
Who do you think is responsible for this decline: Clinton Republicans? They'd be first on my list of suspects.
I'm sure you remember Roger Johnson—that turncoat Republican CEO of Western Digital who endorsed Clinton in 1992 and then went on to be named director of Slick Willy's general services administration. Johnson was the first domino to fall. In 1996, more Republicans—including Mayor Tracy Wills Worley of Tustin, ex-Orange County Supervisor Harriet Weider and Central Committee Member Bill Dougherty—endorsed Clinton for re-election. To top it off, Dougherty called the Orange County Republican Central Committee "an incestuous mob of fellow sycophants who are either on the public payroll as assistants to some Republican office holder or fat-cat corporate lobbyists." Dougherty even got personal when he said that "your leadership and your bigoted Right wing of the party has led us down the path of defeat."
|"B-1 Bob" Dornan; tightly wound|
What a guy!
That reminds me of the time that, on TV, up-and-coming Republican and Congressional candidate, Nathan Rosenberg, called Fuentes "a bagman" for former county Supervisor Ronald W. Caspers! (See KOCE's May 29 Election Special Is Highly Charged, LA Times, 5/20/86.) When Rosenberg was asked to clarify the “bagman” remark, he said we oughta look the word up in Webster’s Dictionary. Yessirreebob!
But, right now, it’s Dougherty’s remark that interests me, ‘cause, all those years ago, he pretty much hit the nail on the head, near as I can tell. And it's almost as if he were talking especially about Tom Fuentes and his pals today!
I did some quick research. Turns out Dougherty, who was in his early seventies at the time of the 1996 Fuentes fracas, was the long-time leader of the moderates among OC Republicans.
From his obit in 2002:
William A. Dougherty, a Villa Park attorney who gained public attention for his defense of Christopher Boyce, the "Falcon" of the spy duo immortalized in the book and film "The Falcon and the Snowman," has died. He was 77.I think I'm in love.
Dougherty, who was known as a lively curmudgeon in Orange County Republican political circles, died Wednesday at his home in the upscale community east of Anaheim. He had prostate cancer and fell into a coma on Christmas Day .
. . .
Dougherty also became known around California in the 1970s for trying to move the Republican Party in Orange County away from the dominant conservatism represented by such politicians as former congressmen Robert K. Dornan and John Schmitz. Though he never was successful in winning political office himself, Dougherty was considered a leader among the moderate or liberal wing of the local GOP.
"I always called myself a Dougherty Republican," said local defense attorney H. Dean Steward, a longtime ally of Dougherty's within the party. "There weren't that many of us, but we were dedicated to moving the party back where it should be."
Dougherty angered many fellow Republicans in 1996 when he supported Democrat Loretta Sanchez after she successfully defeated Dornan. In her literature, Dougherty called Dornan a "war wimp." It cost Dougherty his seat on the county's Republican Central Committee, but after he filed a lawsuit against the party, he eventually was reinstated.
A highly decorated Marine fighter pilot during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, Dougherty retired as a reserve colonel in 1976. He founded the November 10th Assn., a local group of ex-Marines that holds an annual dinner to honor the corps' inception, and was active in the Marine Foundation, a fund-raising group.
• Dornan and Critic Exchange Angry Barbs at GOP Meeting (1996)
• Push Underway to Get Moderates Seats on Central GOP Committee (2000)
• Other Times articles about Dougherty
• Shut Up, Fag!: Quotations from the Files of Congressman Bob Dornan, the Man Who Would Be President
|Loretta v. Bob, c. 1996|