"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - President Ronald Reagan.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Party Boss Days

This morning, I was scanning some old photographs from my days as the chairman of the 53rd Assembly District Republican Central Committee. Some were pretty faded, but I managed to "tweek" them a bit so they'll look better.

The 53rd Assembly District comprised of Hawthorne, Lawndale, Gardena and some portions of Los Angeles and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. It had about 24% Republican registration, so it was a matter of time the incumbent, Republican State Assemblyman Paul Bannai, would lose a re-election bid.

Up until 1980, we were lucky that Bannai faced carpetbagger Democratic opponents. In 1980, he faced off against Richard E. "Dick" Floyd, a rather uncouth and bombastic character who was an aide to the area's state senator, Ralph Dills.

The South Bay area had a number of quirky Democrats in the state legislature. Another was State Senator James Q. Wedworth.  One time, I was helping Dan Walker in his campaign for a seat on the Torrance City Council. When Walker held his campaign headquarters grand opening, Wedworth showed up (he was running for re-election that year). Walker had refreshment platters of meats and cheeses for the attendees. Serving forks were placed there for people to serve themselves with. At one point, Wedworth stood next to one of the platters and started eating from the platter with a serving fork. When he was done, he left the fork in the platter and walked off.

When I saw this, my mouth must have dropped in astonishment. Seeing my reaction, a friend (who was on Walker's campaign staff) came over to me with a big grin and said, "Well, Armand. Now you know why they call him "Barnyard Jim"!"

Anyway, back to Dick Floyd. Floyd beat Bannai for the assembly seat in 1980. Floyd later earned the antipathy of California bikers when he sponsored, and Governor Pete Wilson signed, the motorcycle helmet law.

Bannai later joined the Reagan Administration as head of the veterans cemeteries for the Veterans Administration.

Here's some photos (all by Kenneth Huthmaker):

Alondra Club, September 20, 1980

The 53rd Assembly District Republican Central Committee held a luncheon at the Alondra Club in Lawndale. Besides the usual political speeches, the luncheon featured a "Famous Persons Auction" of items donated by such luminaries as former President Ford, Sen. Barry Goldwater, Caspar Weinburger and others.

Above, Assemblyman Paul Bannai addresses the 53rd Assembly
District Republican Central Committee luncheon held in Lawndale.
Above, yours truly chairing the luncheon. Committee member Patrick Keller is at left.


Gung Hay Chinese Restaurant, February 5, 1981

After Assemblyman Paul Bannai lost his re-election bid the previous November, the 53rd Assembly District Republican Central Committee held the "Salute To Paul Bannai" dinner at the Gung Hay Chinese Restaurant in Gardena. The dinner had about 300 people in attendance and it drew some political heavyweights as Lieutenant Governor Mike Curb, San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson, L.A. County Supervisor Deane Dana, former Democrat Congressman Charles Wilson and many members of city councils of the cities in the district.

The restaurant was located at the former location of Bannai's campaign headquarters during the 1973 special election.

Above (from left), Mrs. Hideko Bannai, Lt. Gov. Mike Curb, former Assemblyman Paul Bannai and Armand Vaquer.

Above (from left), Wesley Bush, Lt. Gov. Mike Curb, Armand Vaquer and Bill Fernandez.

Above (from left), former Assemblyman Paul Bannai, L.A. Co. Supervisor Deane Dana, Armand Vaquer and Hideko Bannai.

Above, yours truly presenting former Assemblyman Bannai with a
 plaque in appreciation of his service in the California State Assembly.


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