December 29, 2004
The Sour Lesson Of Bob Dornan's Defeat

In 1995, Republican Congressman Bob Dornan, who had represented two different Southern California districts, starting in 1976, decided to run for president.  He had great fun for about a year, but spent most of his campaign funds and neglected his district.  This gave an opening to a Democratic financial analyst named Loretta Sanchez-Brixey, who had run for several minor offices without success.  She dropped the Brixey (though not her husband) so as to appear more Hispanic and ran a clever campaign against Dornan, defeating him by the narrow margin of 984 votes.  A visit by Bill Clinton and help from the state and national Democratic parties may have made the difference.   (Clinton and the Democrats had good reason to dislike Dornan, who had criticized Clinton as a draft dodger and a "multiple womanizer".)

So far, this would seem to be a routine story, just another example of a politician who didn't pay enough attention to the folks back home, or how his district was changing.  But there is more to the story.  Dornan charged that Sanchez's margin came from non-citizens, and an investigation by the House of Representatives found that 547 non-citizens had voted in the election.  Some believe that far more non-citizens voted, who were not detected.  John Fund, in Stealing Elections, says that:

An INS investigation in 1996 into alleged Motor Voter fraud in California's Forty-sixth Congressional District revealed that "4,023 illegal voters possibly cast ballots in the disputed election between Republican Robert Dornan and Democrat Loretta Sanchez." (p. 24)

Unfortunately, Fund does not provide an end note for that quotation, though he does for most others in the book.  The 4,023 is a larger number than I have seen in other accounts, though I have seen claims that more than 2,000 non-citizens were registered to vote in the district.   The authoritative Almanac of American Politics (1998 edition) says only that "it is possible that Dornan has a case", which is as far as I would go, too.

But the Almanac has more to say about how many of those non-citizens got on the rolls, and that part of the story is also instructive.

Dornan brought his case to the House Contested Elections Task Force, which in February 1997 issued many subpoenas and promised a hearing in Orange County.  Dornan argued that there were 1,789 illegal voters, and by Spring 1997 came up with proof that 547 non-citizens voted in Orange County and that 303 ineligibles had been registered to vote in the 46th District by Hermandad Nacional Mexicana; this fell short of proving the result was wrong, but raised questions about the netherworld of voter registration in Orange County.  California's registration laws make it easy to get anyone on the voter rolls (the accused assassin of Mexican presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was a registered Democrat in San Pedro), and the Clinton Administration INS made great efforts to process new citizens and dispensed with the usual check for criminal records if the FBI did not respond within sixty days.

Hermandad Nacional Mexicana was running an interesting operation in Orange County.

Moreover, Dornan's attorney, Michael Schroeder, claims the taxpayer-funded English and citizenship classes were being illegally used for political purposes.  In addition to being taught verb conjugations and the fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution, students in Hermandad's classes were receiving political indoctrination and being registered to vote even if they didn't meet the legal requirements.

And it was not just Dornan who found an irregularity or two in the group's registrations.  So did the Los Angeles Times and an independent organization, the Fair Elections Group.  Taxpayers will be pleased to learn that Hermandad Nacional Mexicana was not only a non-profit organization, in spite of its activities, but was subsidized by grants from a variety of governments.  And those who have read this site for some time will not be surprised that nearly all of those registered by the organization requested absentee ballots.  As we have learned again and again, absentee ballots are the choice of most who commit vote fraud.

Let's summarize to this point:  There were a large number of fraudulent votes cast in the Dornan-Sanchez race, perhaps enough to tip the election to Sanchez.  So, what happened after this vote fraud was revealed?  Almost nothing.  Dornan, who is not the most sympathetic character, became a object of scorn, even though he was the victim of vote fraud.  (For an example of the scorn, see this Robert Scheer column.)   In a 1998 rematch, Sanchez beat Dornan easily.  As far as I know, California made no effort to strengthen its election laws or to remove non-citizens from the rolls.  The director of Hermandad Nacional Mexicana at the time, Nativo Lopez, is still director, and the organization is still receiving government grants.

Given how abrasive Dornan had been through his career, it may be too much to expect Democratic politicians to criticize the vote fraud that may have cost him his seat.  But it is not too much to expect those in the "mainstream" media to criticize that vote fraud, and to call for reforms.  If any "mainstream" journalists did so, I missed it.

And that, I think, is the sour lesson that we in Washington state should take from Dornan's defeat.  If you have read my earlier posts, you will know that I think that a fair count of legal ballots in the governor's race would almost certainly give the win to Dino Rossi.   But you should not conclude that I would favor a court challenge.  Though Rossi is not despised by journalists (at least most of them) in the same way as Dornan was (and is), Rossi is a Republican.  Even if Republicans dig up proof that 130 votes were illegitimate, we should not expect journalists in this area to join us in a call to have Christine Gregoire thrown out of office, or even for a new election to be held.  Most journalists, echoing Democratic party hacks, say "count every vote".  Robert Dornan can tell you just what they mean by that phrase.

So what should Republicans do?  We should keep digging up irregularities and publicizing them as best we can.  We should consider backing an "honest elections" initiative in 2006, which would bring back minimal requirements for registration, such as citizenship, and for voting, such as a photo id.  If, in the next few weeks, we can find enough evidence for a case that will get through the "mainstream" media filter to the public, then Rossi should consider going to court.  Otherwise, I think it will be a losing move.  I don't like that conclusion, but there are times, in politics as in war, where you have to retreat in order to advance later.

The Dornan-Sanchez election is the best example of distributed vote fraud that I have found.   It is fair to wonder just how much we can generalize from it.  One could argue that a Southern California district would have many more immigrants, legal and illegal, than most, a point I would grant.  But it is also true that our immigrant population has increased greatly since 1996, and that there is no reason to believe that all the non-citizen voters in the race were detected by Dornan's investigation.  And this year saw a surge in efforts by groups allied to the Democratic party to register people, whether they were citizens or not.

Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics. Posted by Jim Miller at December 29, 2004 12:55 PM | Email This

1. Jim, that's as good a summary as I've seen.

Posted by: South County on December 29, 2004 01:06 PM
2. Sorry, you're wrong. Journalists get one vote apiece, just like the rest of us. They are not a branch of government, much as they'd like to think so. Moreover, journalists have no power inside a Federal courtroom. Ignore them--they're trolls. And, of course, no one--but no one--ever elected Robert Scheer of the LA Times to anything (and they probably don't read him any more, either).

If you continue to fear the media, the Washington state Republican party will lose every election.

Posted by: FedUpWithThis on December 29, 2004 01:06 PM
3. The tides of public opinion are greatly influenced by the stories chosen for publication in - and other stories chosen for suppression by - the mainstream media. By the leverage of their bully pulpits, journalists get a lot more than one vote apiece, and they have taken this perk as theirs by right ever since presses and radios were invented. This monopoly 'right' is only just now beginning to crack, by virtue of Internet competition, but the leverage is still to journalists' advantage.

Posted by: Insufficiently Sensitive on December 29, 2004 01:28 PM
4. Jim,

Good summary. I agree. The key is to see if we can get enough high profile irregularities to get the critical mass required for the Mainstream Media to actually acknowledge a story that runs contrary to their interests.

It happened with the Dan Rather fake documetns and although this is only one of 50 states, it can happen again.

It pretty much comes down to Sound Politics. Hate to put that kind of burden on Stefan, but I don't see anyone else with enough clout and enough analysis to make this happen. If Stefan finds enough data, then maybe it will be picked up quickly by talk radio and if everyone is then encouraged by Mike Siegel, etc. to scream loud enough, then those screams just might be heard through the soundproof walls at the Seattle Times, PI, King5, Komo4, etc.

Posted by: Jeff B. on December 29, 2004 01:31 PM
5. Our repubnik senator bill frist is about to do a similar thing that Dornan did. Ignore the state in favior of the christian reconstructionist and also to advance his chances of running for repubnik president in 2008. He will ignore the people of the red state of tennessee, and then he will suddenly in 2006, find he is out of office. he will cry like a baby and ask, what happened? Then the people of tennessee will tell mr. frist that he ignored them and decided to help the christian family bigwigs and mr. bush.

Heres to the Democrat who will defeate mr. frist in 2006.

3 Cheers.

Posted by: Magnum Serpentine on December 29, 2004 01:32 PM
6. Bob Dornan lost to Loretta Sanchez by 984 votes. However, it could be shown that only 547 non-citizens voted in that election. If that number had instead been 985 or greater (or even 984), then Sanchez's victory would have been thrown out, and the election would have been re-run.

Since Gregoire's apparent victory margin is only 129 votes (about 1/8 of Sanchez's victory margin), and Washington has about nine times the votes as a California congressional district, I would expect identifying 130 or more (or even 129) illegal votes would be an infinitely simpler proposition.

I don't think the comment about Sanchez's decision to change her last name was all that appropriate. It should make no difference whether a person's last name is "Hispanic", "Italian", "Irish", "French", or whatever. It is perfectly legitimate for a woman to use the name she was born with, which is exactly what Sanchez did. Besides, a hyphenated last name may have been less popular with voters, than simply using a single surname.

Moreover, "Sanchez" is less "Hispanic" than "Sanchez-Brixey". In Mexico, a married woman would put her husband's name after hers, as in "Sanchez Brixey" or "Sanchez de Brixey". Or she could keep her "maiden name", as is the "modern" practice there, and leave her mother's maiden name after her father's surname, just as she was known before marriage. So if her mother's maiden name was Gonzalez, it would be "Sanchez Gonzalez" or "Sanchez y Gonzalez".

I think Sanchez is a decent Congresswoman. She used to be a registered Republican, before she ran against Dornan. She is fairly moderate, as far as Democrats go.

And one of the best things about Loretta Sanchez is that the communists in Vietnam don't like her. The communist regime in Hanoi consistently refuses to give her a visa to visit that country. Sanchez actually thinks human rights and democracy are important!

Compare and contrast this with Senator John Kerry or Senator John McCain (and many others in both parties), who tiptoe around the massive denials of human rights and freedom, and are welcomed with open arms by the commissars in Hanoi.

I will take Loretta Sanchez over Baghdad Jim, or any of the other Democrats in our Washington delegation (in either chamber of Congress) any day of the week.

Posted by: Richard Pope on December 29, 2004 01:43 PM
7. With all respect to all your comments in the past and your research for this is not important whether anyone likes or dislikes Ms Sanchez...the bottom line is: Was she elected because of voter fraud and is she an illegitimate congresswoman. Also, with respect to the ones who say that we will survive 4 years of CG, again, the bottom line is: Is her win due to FRAUD???

Posted by: Susu on December 29, 2004 01:56 PM
8. Maybe while you guys are looking for illegal votes you could also work at finding the missing weapons of mass destruction.

Posted by: Lincoln Republican on December 29, 2004 02:05 PM
9. Lincoln, you mean the WMD's that Bill and Hillary
Clinton, Kennedy, Kerry, Gephardt, Pelosi, Daschle
and all our other favorite cartoon characters
said were there? Dumb ass.

Posted by: mark on December 29, 2004 02:51 PM
10. Lincoln, you mean the WMD's that Bill and Hillary
Clinton, Kennedy, Kerry, Gephardt, Pelosi, Daschle
and all our other favorite cartoon characters
said were there? Dumb ass.

Posted by: mark on December 29, 2004 02:51 PM
11. Lincoln, you mean the WMD's that Bill and Hillary
Clinton, Kennedy, Kerry, Gephardt, Pelosi, Daschle
and all our other favorite cartoon characters
said were there? Dumb ass.

Posted by: mark on December 29, 2004 02:51 PM
12. LOL. Mark, if you say the same thing 3 times in a row do people listen to you better?

Posted by: Lincoln Republican on December 29, 2004 03:37 PM
13. Posted by Susu at December 29, 2004 01:56 PM

Bob Dornan did have reasonable cause to commence his election contest. The initial information, not to the standard that is admissible evidence of course, supported the proposition that well over 984 non-citizens might have voted in the election.

However, after discovery and subpoenas and extensive investigation, this figure turned out to be only 547 non-citizens who voted -- significantly less than Sanchez's victory margin. So Dornan's election contest, while it was not frivolous and was brought in good faith, had to be rejected.

Sanchez is clearly a legitimate member of the U.S. House of Representatives. She was re-elected in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004 by much more significant margins -- including beating Dornan in 1998 in a rematch by many times the original margin.

I think the state GOP team will gather enough evidence to win an election contest before filing it -- unlike Dornan, who merely had probable cause based on reasonable suspicion.

Posted by: Richard Pope on December 29, 2004 03:54 PM
14. It's too bad that Bob Dornan didn't gather enough evidence needed to show that fraud resulted in the loss of of his seat and that many other illegal voters were not discovered or uncovered.

I know that it's asking alot for a Dem, but if Ms Sanchez were really a "good congresswoman" she would work to not allow voter fraud to continue (which it probably is) in her district. She could do some clean-up work & pressure these hispanic groups to cease registering illegals. Of course it would be biting the hand that feeds her, but honesty & integrity in her party could start with her.

Posted by: Susu on December 29, 2004 04:24 PM
15. An honest registration and voting process will do nothing to clean up the counting process. It has been proven time and time again that democrats simply cannot let law or ethics over ride their inborn need to win at any cost.

The only way we will ever see a fair and impartial election is to remove partisan volunteers and turn the responsibility of collecting and counting ballots to bonded accounting firms such as Deloitte & Touche and delegate ballot security to Brinks, Pinkerton or National Guard.

Posted by: Baynative Jim on December 29, 2004 05:28 PM
16. Jim Miller: that's pretty much where my thoughts are starting to go. If they can't find the solid proof for a court challenge of fraud, revote is NOT the way to go.

However, whether we get Gov. Rossi or Gov. Gregoire in the end, SOMETHING has to be done with elections. Even if this was just "messiness" it needs to be cleaned up and stricter controls placed.

Posted by: Sarah Schreffler on December 30, 2004 11:23 AM
17. Obviously, certain ethnic groups/races, whatever have to break the law by sneaking into the US and cheating the election laws but it would be so racist to speculate that it's these traits that made the country they left such an undesirable place to live. Open borders, my ass!

Posted by: Jakemeister on January 1, 2005 09:53 AM
18. I'm sorry but I just can't partake in the retreat for a later victory argument. I am done playing Mr. Nice Guy when it comes to fighting against liberalism and the Democrats. If the tables were turned, you can bet the world that the dems would scream about every erroreneous tabulation. They also know that we will, in most cases, quietly go away. The MSM knows this also. They know that if they ignore a story long enough, eventually people will stop asking questions and the story will fade.

Our job, as Republicans and/or conservatives, is to stop laying down for these people. Rossi has a legitimate argument. The tallies don't match. We truly don't know who won. That's a legitimate fact. He should fight tooth and nail but should do so in a very professional, non-name calling manner. For instance, when Rossi first called for the revote (Wednesday night) the MSM immediately went to the Gregoire camp for comment. One of Gregoire's representatives said, "The only fraud in this election is Dino Rossi." That's totally uncalled for. Rossi and his camp should steer completely away from calling Gregoire anything, nor should they get swallowed up in a playground spat. Instead, they should take a definitive and assertive lead in the call for a revote. They should be the main broadcast point of the legitimate accounts of errors, omissions and other incidents that can be fact checked to their fullest so that those in power will have no choice but to call for a revote.

This is extremely important because of its future ramifications. If these problems aren't addressed now, they will set precedent for being allowed in the future. What if Hillary runs in '08 and for the first time in history Washington becomes a swing state? What if Washington is '08's version of 04's Ohio? What if the vote is just as close? If we allow these problems now, in 4 years when they happen again we'll be told, "Well, you accepted this in '04 so you don't really have an argument here. You knew about these problems and should have expected them again."

In summary, I think the Rossi camp should be the ultimate squeaking wheel but should focus on errors and mistakes. They should run ads and have press-conferences detailing the incorrect tallies. Don't call King County fraudulent. Just show that they made mistakes and provide the facts. Then, don't stop putting that information in front of the people of this state.

So I say - don't retreat. Move forward armed with the truth and don't worry about the MSM or what people will say. Worry about the truth and keep it in front of the people. Eventually they will come around. You see, the only people that are tired and 'want this to go away' are those who have a vested interest in the election of Gregoire and her political position. They will pressure Rossi to end his efforts for the good of the state. Translated, this actually means, "Leave us alone. We've got the power now so go away."

Don't go away. Don't stop, because if you do it will hurt the state for years to come.

Posted by: David Crocker on January 2, 2005 09:12 AM
19. David,

Well said. We need look no further than the kooky liberals in Ohio. There guy lost by 118,000 votes and they are STILL screaming bloody murder that Bush's victory was illegitiate.

Posted by: Don on January 4, 2005 08:16 AM
20. David,

Well said. We need look no further than the kooky liberals in Ohio. There guy lost by 118,000 votes and they are STILL screaming bloody murder that Bush's victory was illegitimate.

Posted by: Don on January 4, 2005 08:16 AM
21. i am the one who first contacted bob dornans office back at that time when some mexican political group came to my door and offrered to register us to vote and etll us how to vote. i am a white american and my husband at the time was here from cuba. he wasnt even legally allowed to vote.

this political organization was giving away a new camaro as an incentive to vote illegally.

this is the ONLY reason that loretta sanchez won.

although i tried to make the dornan camp believe me, they werent interested in hearing me until they lost.

Posted by: lauren stephens on April 27, 2005 05:35 AM
22. I really miss seeing B-1 Bob on the floor of the U.S. House. I used to watch him on C-Span all the time. He was glorious. He is a real patriot. Here's hoping he is vindicated some day soon. He didn't deserve what happened to him and I am quite saddened that he was not supported more by his fellow Republicans in congress. It's a rotten shame. Having moved to Oregon, from CA, we are now stuck with all voting being done by mail which is frought with fraud. It is hard to feel secure about any election anymore. A Republican, and especially a conservative has to win by such a huge majority to avoid being questioned it is rediculous. Christians had better start getting involved in politics and electing good people or God will turn His back on this country. If all the Christians got out there and voted for the good people who ran there wouldn't be enough voter frauds out there to stop the good candidates.

Posted by: Cherrill Clifford on July 3, 2005 08:26 PM
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