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LANDSCAPE:Running a club by committee

THE POLITICAL

Longtime leader of Republican club will finally retire; Democrats ready to register new voters.

December 21, 2006|By Alicia Robinson

After 22 years at the helm of the GOP club he founded, former Assemblyman Gil Ferguson will finally be able to retire.

The Newport Beach politico and members of the club, called Principles Over Politics, recently decided they'll form committees to take over Ferguson's duties so he can relax a little.

He tried to shut down the club two years ago, in part because of his and his wife's health concerns. But people who come to the group's monthly breakfasts were so insistent that Ferguson, now 83, agreed to keep the club going with the caveat that someone else would take over.

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He wanted John Moorlach to do it, but Moorlach's hands are full with his new job as an Orange County supervisor, Ferguson said. So the club will be run by a yet-to-be chosen member, and the work will be done by committees.

The work includes arranging speakers for monthly events that attract as many as 225 people and sending out a newsletter to the 3,000 people on the mailing list. Ferguson said he'll still publish the newsletter because members said in a survey they like it.

"Even though I made a lot of spelling errors and grammatical errors, they said they'd continue to overlook those," he said.

DEMS PREPARE FOR REGISTRATION PUSH

Orange County Democrats are preparing to storm the county with the hope of increasing their registration, and to that end the party has hired a political director and a field director for the first time.

Democratic officials announced last week that they've hired Melahat Rafiei as political director and Edgardo Reynoso as field director, positions party Chairman Frank Barbaro said will be vital to expanding the Democratic base in Orange County.

"If we're going to get into something with the Republicans here where we're challenging them for turf, we're challenging them for people's minds — I'm a firm believer in not getting into a rock fight without a rock," Barbaro said.

So what turf will the Dems be eyeing in 2007?

"We think that we have a shot at the 68th Assembly [district], and we think we have a shot at Dana Rohrabacher's [46th District congressional] seat," Barbaro said.

Both of those seats represent Costa Mesa. The Republicans who hold those seats each won in November with more than 60% of the vote, but Barbaro still thinks Democrats can make inroads.

He criticized Rohrabacher's record on environmental issues and for his friendship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, among other things.

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