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Candidates keeping Nichols endorsements despite furor

July 10, 2003

Paul Clinton

Candidates for statewide office are sticking with endorsements from

Newport Beach Councilman Dick Nichols, despite calls for his

resignation from his peers for racially insensitive comments.

Marianne Zippi, who is seeking the 70th District seat now held by

Assemblyman John Campbell, secured Nichols' endorsement about six

months ago. Zippi said Nichols should be given a second chance.

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"I believe his heart is in the right place, even if his mouth

isn't," Zippi said. "I'm not taking his name off my endorsement

list."

Nichols, while discussing improvements to Corona del Mar State

Beach with a Daily Pilot reporter last month, said he opposed adding

more grassy areas because "with grass, we usually get Mexicans coming

in there early in the morning, and they claim it as theirs, and it

becomes their personal, private grounds all day."

On Tuesday, the Newport Beach City Council reprimanded Nichols for

his remark, but decided not to strip him of his committee

assignments.

Assemblyman Ken Maddox has also decided to keep Nichols'

endorsement. Maddox is running against Campbell for the 35th District

state Senate seat. In a June 30 press release, Maddox touted Nichols'

endorsement along with 23 other city council members in Orange

County, including Newport Beach Councilman Gary Proctor.

"I disagree with his initial comments," Maddox said through

campaign consultant Wayne Johnson. "They do not reflect my views."

Maddox sent cards to each of the council members in the district

earlier this year seeking their support, Johnson said. Nichols and

Proctor, in addition to Costa Mesa Councilman Allan Mansoor, lent

their support.

When contacted Wednesday, Nichols said he supported Zippi because

she is "a personal friend," but said he hopes Zippi opponent Chuck

DeVore wins the seat because "he would make a good Assemblyman."

Nichols also said he supported Maddox over Campbell because Costa

Mesa's Assemblyman is "a very straightforward guy."

"I like Campbell, but Campbell has made some endorsements that are

questionable," Nichols said. "He appointed a Log Cabin member. ...

Ken Maddox doesn't have any around-the-back maneuverers."

In 2000, Campbell appointed Laguna Beach resident Frank

Ricchiazzi, the openly gay co-founder of the Log Cabin Republicans,

as a delegate to the California Republican Party.

Campbell campaign consultant Chris Wysocki said he was stunned by

Nichols' comments.

"If Ken Maddox wants to associate himself with a racist and bigot,

he's more than welcome to," Wysocki said. "The only reason

Republicans have a foothold in Laguna Beach is because of the work

Frank Ricchiazzi has done."

Nichols, who is a member of the conservative grass-roots group

California Republican Assembly, also took aim at the Lincoln Club of

Orange County, a local GOP fund-raiser.

"They are not a bona fide Republican group," Nichols said.

The councilman also accused the group of backing nonconservative

candidates.

"He's hit the trifecta," Wysocki said, in response. "This guy

sounds like somebody who's lost touch with reality and isn't

interested in electing Republicans."

* PAUL CLINTON covers the environment, business and politics. He

may be reached at (949) 764-4330 or by e-mail at

paul.clinton@latimes.com.

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