From the LA Times, Oct 10, 1967
Today, I found dozens of fascinating old LA Times articles, some of them about Tom. The one above, from 1967, reveals that, as Student Prez, Tom was involved in a student government conference at which Schmitz, a Poli Sci instructor, gave the "keynote address." That by itself, of course, does not imply that Tom supported Schmitz.
By 1968, I believe, Fuentes had transferred to Chapman College. Reading through these old articles, I learned that Ron Caspers had connections with Chapman, where Fuentes was once again the President of the Young Republicans. Perhaps that is where the two got to know each other. (I'm only speculating.)
|From the LA Times, June 23, 1970|
In 1970, Fuentes, at age 22, managed Caspers' campaign in which he won the area 5 Supervisorial position. In the early stages of that campaign (before Fuentes' involvement?), Caspers and his "Coalition" friends used remarkably unscrupulous tactics to damage the reputation of respected Republican incumbent Alton Allen. In any case, in the end, with Fuentes' help, Caspers won the seat.
The article above reveals that, at about the end of his college career, Fuentes somehow managed to donate $500 to the Schmitz campaign (to replace Jimmy Utt in Congress, I suppose; Utt died in 1970). Oddly, everything I've read about Caspers suggests to me that, likely, he would not have been a fan of the extreme Mr. Schmitz, though I have not confirmed that.
|LA Times, Sep. 17, 1972|
The above 1972 letter to the Times reveals that, indeed, Tom had long supported John Schmitz, though he now distanced himself from the fellow. At the time, the ferociously anti-Commie Schmitz had become a harsh critic of Nixon—who had, after all, gone to China!—and actually headed the American Independent Party ticket, running against him. My guess is that it was at this point that Fuentes' support for Schmitz ended. Clearly, from an early age, Mr. Nixon was Tom's #1 idol.
Nixon birthplace marks 100 years (OC Reg)
Nevertheless, he still seemed to count Tom Fuentes as his pal:
…Thomas A. Fuentes, county Republican Party chairman and a longtime Schmitz confidant, said Schmitz recently joked that "if there were 14 Republican candidates he might be the 15th, just to offer a little color to the race."Classic Fuentes. Nobody talks like that.
"I would say," Fuentes added, "that it was said in the heartiest of jest in the typical style of John Schmitz's renowned humor." (From “Schmitz, Out of Spotlight, Confines Politics to Classroom,” LA Times, May 16, 1988)
Nobody but Tom