Politics 2003Week of September 29
STATE CHAIRMEN FOR ARNOLD… When I spotted Maura McGraw wearing an “Arnold” T-Shirt at the Republican State Convention in Los Angeles September 12-14, that was the tip-off. When the oldest of the four daughters of former State Party Chairman John McGraw—an outspoken conservative who once called abortion “the issue of the century”—was eagerly campaigning for Arnold Schwarzenegger, who disagrees with her father on most cultural issues, I knew Arnold was picking up more conservative support from party leaders. Sure enough, before the convention was over, it was announced that McGraw and seven other former state party chairmen in the Golden State were backing Schwarzenegger for governor in the October 7 recall election. Within a week, that number had swollen to 14 past chairmen for Schwarzenegger over the other heavyweight Republican in the race, conservative State Sen. Tom McClintock. In fact, all but three of the living former California Republican Party chairmen have now weighed in for the novice-office-seeker. “Clearly Tom McClintock is a proven leader, most knowledgeable about the budget and an early supporter of the Recall,” explained immediate past Chairman Shawn Steel, who had organized the party leadership alumni for Schwarzenegger, “He is my friend and I plan to support him for years to come. However, Tom continues to show he has but one-half the support as Arnold Schwarzenegger. If the evidence were contrary, I would offer a completely different choice.” Although the collection of former chairmen includes some decided moderates, such as former Rep. (1960-76) Alphonzo Bell, who was chairman from 1956-59, and former Assemblyman Bob Naylor, chairman from 1987-89, Many were significant and well-known figures on the right: Dr. Tirso Del Junco, medic for the anti-Communist rebels at the Bay of Pigs and two time chairman (1981-83; 1993-95); former Rep. (1964-69) and Lt. Gov.(1969-74) Ed Reinecke, chairman from 1983-85; former Secretary of Energy John Herrington, one of the only former Cabinet members who went on to serve as a state chairman (1995-97), McGraw (1999-2001), and Steel, who cut his political eyeteeth as a teenager in Los Angeles changing a highway sign from “Coldwater Canyon” to “Goldwater Canyon.” Possibly the most intriguing person on the list is Dr. Gaylord Parkinson, long hailed by Golden State GOPers as their most successful chairman in modern times. San Diego obstetrician Parkinson “was ‘discovered’ by [Richard] Nixon when the former Vice President returned to California in 1961,” David Broder and Stephen Hess wrote in the The Republican Establishment in 1967, “First, with Nixon’s backing and then on his own, Parkinson put the Republican State Committee back in business and began stamping out the fires of factionalism with both feet. He launched the “Cal Plan,” a system of providing heavy financial support and organization help to a specially-selected, small number of legislative candidates each year, with the goal of overturning the Democratic majority in the legislature by the election of 1970. [Republicans actually won a majority in the state assembly in 1968 and were only two seats down in the senate.] In 1964 and again in 1966, Parkinson, using the sanction of grass-roots organization support for his own views, successfully imposed his ‘Eleventh Commandment’, otherwise referred to as ‘Parkinson’s Law,’ for aspiring GOP candidates and their principal backers: ‘Thou shalt not speak evil of another Republican.’. . .” Parkinson, as Hess and Broder reported, “is credited, and rightfully, with a major contribution to the election of George Murphy to the Senate in 1964 and of Reagan and a host of other candidates in 1966.” The physician-pol known universally as “Parky” was state chairman from 1965-67, headed up the Republican State Chairmen’s Association, and was briefly Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign manager in 1967. …AND THE HOLDOUTS Like Gaylord Parkinson, former State Chairman Caspar Weinberger is a much-loved figure among California Republicans—albeit for things aside from intra-party politics. Indeed, former Assemblyman and Rockefeller-for-President enthusiast Weinberger was widely distrusted by the party’s growing conservative wing when he was narrowly elected to the state chairmanship in 1962. The Goldwater forces, led in California by former Republican Sen. (1945-58) William F. Knowland, supported Gardiner Johnson against Weinberger. “[Johnson] was a fellow San Francisco attorney and a friend,” Weinberger recalled in his memoirs, “Sen. Knowland nominated him in a speech that lost some of its intended effect because the senator forgot to mention Johnson’s name. . . I did manage to win the chairmanship, again by a close rollcall vote.” Weinberger would win his conservative stripes—as well as the nickname “Cap the Knife”—as Gov. Reagan’s cost-cutting finance director and as the budget-cutting director of the Office of Management and Budget and secretary of health, education, and welfare under President Richard Nixon. He is universally hailed as a major player in the effort to bring about the end of the Cold War as Reagan’s secretary of defense. But Weinberger is taking no sides in the California election. According to his assistant Kay Leisz, “When there are two Republicans in a primary—like this almost is—Mr. Weinberger just doesn’t come out for one or the other.” Similarly, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, a strong conservative who was state chairman from 1985-86, has declared neutrality in the race although he said shortly before the gubernatorial debate that he was “leaning to Schwarzenegger.” Mike Schroeder, another conservative who was chairman from 1997-99, told me he “was not supporting Schwarzenegger because he is running as a liberal and will not make any concessions on policy.” But Schroeder added he has not endorsed McClintock. BOB BROADBENT, R.I.P. One of the best-loved and most durable conservatives in Nevada died last week, following a long bout with cancer. Robert N. Broadbent, a veteran of the political wars in the Silver State as well as the Reagan Administration, appeared to have made mighty enemies, ranging from the casinos that were said to harbor ganglords to the rabid environmentalists. But incredibly, it was nearly impossible to find anyone who would say an unkind word about the kindly Boulder City pharmacist whose death notice listed his occupation as “public servant.” A native Nevadan who served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, Broadbent earned a degree in Pharmacy from Idaho State College in 1950. Moving to Boulder City, he ran a neighborhood pharmacy there for more than a quarter century. When Boulder City finally received home rule in 1959, he was elected its first mayor and carefully guided the transfer of the sleepy city from being a ward of Department of the Interior to its new, enhanced life as an independent municipality. In 1968, Broadbent won a spot on the Clark County (Las Vegas) Commission. As head of the commission’s Convention and Visitors Authority, the pharmacist-politician declared war on casinos that had mob figures in their management and oversaw greater scrutiny in the granting of gambling licenses. With Broadbent’s eager assistance, state and federal agents in the 1960s and ’70s began a crackdown on “mobbed up” strip resorts. Broadbent’s reputation as a political “Mr. Clean” helped him become the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 1970. But, in one of the most devastating years for Silver State GOPers, he lost a close race to Democrat Harry Reid. Four years later, however, Broadbent turned the tables when he served as Southern Nevada chairman for close friend and fellow Republican Paul Laxalt , who won a nail-biting U.S. Senate race over Reid by 624 votes. The triumph was all the more impressive because, in the so-called “Watergate Year” of 1974, Laxalt was the lone Republican in the country to pick up a Senate seat previously in Democratic hands. ( After Laxalt retired in 1986, Reid made it to the Senate and is today the Senate Democratic Whip. ) In 1981, Sen. Laxalt recommended Broadbent to then-Secretary of the Interior Jim Watt to be assistant secretary for water and science. Reminiscing about Watt’s initial skepticism of his friend (“‘Paul, he’s a pharmacist!’ Laxalt recalled Watt telling him), Laxalt proudly told how within a few months, Watt called him back “to say, “This guy’s the best.” Broadbent left the Reagan Administration in 1987 and, taking a $5,000 annual pay cut, became Clark County’s director of aviation. during his decade-long management, McCarran Airport in Las Vegas underwent more than $1 billion worth of in improvements and became one of the ten busiest airports in the nation. Among changes overseen by Broadbent were terminal expansion, a new parking garage, and a new runway. Retiring at 71, Broadbent joined the consulting firm headed by old friend and GOP powerhouse Sig Rogich. Noting that a large percentage of the many new Nevadans might not know the name of Bob Broadbent, Laxalt said that “they should understand the quality of life they enjoy in Southern Nevada is due in large measure to Bob’s many contributions throughout his 40 years in public life.” Broadbent was 77.