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Martha Montelongo - Contributor
Martha Montelongo is a political commentator and radio talk show host on KION in Monterey, Calif. [Montelongo website] [Montelongo index]

Dornan Picks The Wrong Target
He should work to defeat the Sanchez sisters, not another Republican

[Martha Montelongo] 12/19/03

When I heard about Bob Dornan's decision to go after Dana Rohrabacher's congressional seat, the words narcissist, spoiler and saboteur came to mind, for starters. Was he in a coma during the recall? Did he miss the gallantry of Darrell Issa, the grace of Bill Simon and the united effort of conservative and moderate leadership, of elected officials at all levels of office, behind one candidate, predicated on the unified commitment to a cause bigger than anyone's own personal political agenda?

But instead of running against Loretta Sanchez, the woman who took his Orange County House seat, or helping oust Linda Sanchez from her L.A. County House seat, Dornan is wasting his time and influence targeting a fellow Republican.

The Sanchez sisters are vulnerable. In the recent recall, Hispanic voters - both in their districts and statewide - embraced the battle cry against the car tax and rejected the pandering of Gray Davis. They proved with their votes that they were as incensed as anyone by leaders who lack fiscal and political accountability.

Despite this, most Hispanic elected officials at the state and congressional level emphasize class warfare, special interests and ethnic-identity politics. The views of California's many Hispanic Republicans are not represented.

We are ripe for change. Rohrabacher understands this opportunity better than most. He has offered to support two formidable Republican Hispanic candidates, Tim Escobar and Alexandria Coronado, who are running against Linda Sanchez and Loretta Sanchez, respectively. Both candidates have impressive credentials and name recognition in their districts. But both are in need of support from established leaders and mentors such as Rohrabacher and his congressional colleagues - and Dornan.

Defeating these two Democratic incumbents should be a priority. The sisters have well-established track records for being anti-business. Their loyalties lie with labor unions, trial lawyers and the environmental-conflict industry. Additionally, they are strong ethnic-identity politicians who pander to Hispanics but who consistently vote against policies that reflect core Hispanic family values.

Now, because of Bob Dornan's arrogance, these candidates may be denied party resources and media attention. They deserve better.

Escobar is a reserve officer and pilot with the Army National Guard. Married for 15 years with four children, he is a successful investment adviser and community business leader.

Coronado, a strong education reform advocate, is an Orange County school board member. She has won two elections to office in a district covering two-thirds of Loretta Sanchez's district. The last third also should be receptive to her message; the predominantly Hispanic area voted earlier this year to recall Larry "Nativo" Lopez from the Santa Ana school board for pushing bilingual education against the will of the parents.

Loretta Sanchez personally campaigned for Lopez, but her constituents didn't listen. This is one more sign her politics don't reflect her district - and that she is vulnerable to a Republican challenge.

Dornan should be doing all he can to help Escobar and Coronado defeat the Sanchezes. If he didn't want to have a secondary role, he could have run against Loretta again - or her sister. That would have been poetic.

Instead, by pulling attention and financial and political support away from the Sanchezes' opponents, he is helping the woman who ousted him from Congress, and her kid sister, too.

Instead, Dornan is going after a fellow conservative with high ratings from the American Conservative Union, the Christian Coalition, the National Tax Limitation Committee and other admirable groups.

Dornan may have hurt feelings because he doesn't think he got enough support from Rohrabacher when he last ran for Congress. So what? One more word comes to mind for his behavior: capricious.

This column first appeared in the CRO Blog and was later published in the editorial pages of the Orange County Register 12/17/03

copyright 2003 - Martha Montelongo






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