IFAS | Freedom Writer | January/February 1998 | bordonaro.html

Religious Right rallies behind Bordonaro in California primary

By Jerry Sloan

Religious Right groups from around the nation rallied behind ultraconservative California Assemblyman Tom Bordonaro in the Republican primary for a special election in the 22nd US Congressional District. Bordonaro won an upset victory (in January 1998) ov er the more moderate Republican Assemblyman Brooks Firestone, a scion of the Firestone rubber family.

The special election, slated for March 10, 1998, was necessitated by the untimely death of Representative Dr. Walter Capps, a UC-Santa Barbara religion professor, who died of a heart attack last October. Dr. Capps was the first Democrat to serve in the 22nd Congressional District since the end of World War II.

The Republican primary was filled with debate on the issues of health care, abortion rights and the so-called "partial birth" abortion procedure. The "partial birth" abortion issue was raised and funded by two Washington D.C. based groups, The Campaign fo r Working Families (CFW) and The Catholic Alliance (a project of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition). The Campaign for Working Families is a PAC formed by Gary Bauer, of the Family Research Council, which is a spin-off of James Dobson's Focus on the Fami ly. Dobson sits on the board of Bauer's Family Research Council.

Bauer claims that his PAC has raised over $ 2,000,000 to support socially conservative candidates. Bordonaro received direct funding from CWF in the amount of $5000 and benefited from the indirect support of a $100,000 radio/TV ad campaign which clobbe red Firestone for his alleged support of "partial birth" abortion. Although Firestone proclaimed himself to be pro-life, he stated that it is not the government's place to interfere with a medical decision. Several TV stations in the district refused t o run CWF's ads because they felt the ads were too "graphic" in their description of the procedure.

The Catholic Alliance also played a key role by printing 100,000 voter guides (in English and Spanish) and distributing them to local churches. The voter guides favored Bordonaro by highlighting his opposition to abortion and homosexual marriages and hi s support for school vouchers. "We don't have positions on guns or term limits," noted Catholic Alliance spokesman Larry Cirignano. "God didn't take positions on those," Cirignano said in reference to attacks Bordonaro received from the group U.S. Term Li mits. Bordonaro refused to sign the group's statement declaring that, if elected, he would only serve three terms.

Bordonaro is a wheelchair mobile quadriplegic who suffered a severe, almost fatal cervical spinal injury in 1977, when he was 18 years old. In his successful 1994 campaign for a seat in the California Assembly, Bordonaro received nominal support from the Allied Business PAC (which was formed by State Senator Rob Hurtt and Christian Reconstructionist millionaire Howard Ahmanson, Jr.).

In the March 10th special election, Bordonaro will be running against Democrat Lois Capps, wife of the late Representative Dr. Walter Capps.

Bordonaro campaign contributions

Jeffrey Buckingham, president of
GST/Call America, and his wife Joan
Christian Times of the Central Coast$225
California Right to Life PAC$1,500
Coburn for Congress$1,000
Conservative Victory Fund$1,000
Eagle Forum PAC$2,500
John T. Doolittle for Congress$1,000
Leadership for America Committee$1,000
National Right to Life PAC$1,000
Republican National Coalition for Life$1,000
Steve Largent for Congress$1,000
Wally Harger for Congress$1,000

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.