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By Louise Leigh & Fred Davis

The decade encompassing 1972 to 1982 was a time of despair   (Watergate) and presidential euphoria (Reagan) for CRA.

In 1972, Reagan was Governor of California and Nixon was President of the United States.  The CRA Convention delegates elected Dr. Donovan Pretzer president of CRA that year.  Dr. Pretzer decided that the CRA archives should be stored in a permanent place for posterity.

He approached the University of California at Los Angeles, where the archives were accepted and are now stored permanently.

By 1972, conservative elements within the Republican Party were becoming more vocal in their opposition to President Nixon’s policies.

The war ends.  Amnesty to those who had fled the country to avoid serving in Vietnam became a national issue and a furious debate.

On May 30, 1973, Tom Bradley defeated Sam Yorty and became Mayor of Los Angeles. 

CRA passed a resolution that year urging acceptance of the Panama Canal zone as our 51st state.  At the 1973 CRA convention, the bylaws were changed from Congressional District Directors to Assembly District Directors for greater grass roots involvement.

After Vice President Spiro Agnew was accused by the press of having accepted gratuities while he was Governor of Maryland, he was forced to resign October 10, 1973.  President Nixon appointed Gerald Ford Vice President.

Then came Watergate accusations, which immobilized the government and shocked the nation.  Republicans were confused and hoped for a plausible explanation. 

CRA News
March 1974

Let us try to persuade Congress to either impeach the President or ‘GET OFF HIS BACK’ as some have put it.  We are glad to see Senator Barry Goldwater and Senator Hugh Scott begin to take the offensive in support of the President.  There are too many pressing and vital issues facing our country for Congress to waste all its time on Watergate.  Let us demand that they get on with the important business of running our great country.


Los Angeles Times
March 2, 1974

Watergate Charges Rage, 6 Ex-Nixon Aides Indicted

On March 18, 1974, the Watergate scandal infiltrated California.  Special Watergate Prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, probed into the alleged offer by International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation to help finance the 1972 Republican National Convention and accused Lt. Governor Ed Reineke of improprieties.  By October 2, 1974, Lt. Governor Reineke was forced to resign and Governor Reagan appointed John Harmer Lt. Governor.

The uncertainty of Watergate came to an end on August 10, 1974.  President Nixon resigned as President of the United States (a first in American history) and Gerald Ford was sworn in as President.  His statement to America: “The nightmare is over.”

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported the CRA had 5,600 members in 1974. 

On September 9, 1974, President Ford granted President Nixon an absolute pardon to avoid trials and further sensationalism.  He then appointed Nelson Rockefeller to the Vice Presidency of the United States.

In November of 1974, Jerry Brown defeated Republican Houston Flournoy to become governor of California.

CRA voted against the Equal Rights Amendment for women in 1975.  At that same CRA board meeting, a Resolution was passed supporting an open primary and national convention.  Vice Chairman of the Republican State Central Committee, Mike Montgomery, stated, “We cannot tolerate having a state committee involved in a Reagan-Ford fight.  Our responsibility as state officers is to ensure all candidates receive fair and impartial treatment.”

At the Republican National Convention, President Gerald Ford became the Republican Nominee by a small majority over Ronald Reagan.  On November 3, 1976, President Ford lost to Democrat Jimmy Carter.  Republican losses were heavy in the election.  Watergate had taken its toll.

CRA’s founding fathers must have experienced the shock of a lifetime when, on April 17, 1977, the first woman in CRA history was elected president of the California Republican Assembly — Ms. Mike Evans.  She sought a second term in 1978, contrary to a CRA unwritten law, and was defeated in her bid.  Dennis Catron was elected president that year.

Delegates of the 1977 CRA convention passed a Resolution urging
Congress to continue ownership and control of the Panama Canal.  “It is vital to the defense of the free world,” it said.

In May of 1978, the CRA endorsed Ed Davis for Governor over Evelle Younger, Mike Antonovich for Lt. Governor over Mike Curb, and George Deukmejian for Attorney General.  In November, all Republicans lost their bids for state office except Deukmejian and Curb.

At CRA’s March Convention in Los Angeles, members heard two candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination and vote on proposed changes to CRA bylaws.

The two presidential candidates? Ronald Reagan and Phillip Crane.

On April 26, 1980, the American public learned that an attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran had failed.  Americans were killed, helicopters destroyed, and it became an American fiasco.  Inflation climbed, and Carter’s popularity fell to an all time low.

The Republican debates between Baker, Dole, Crane, Connelly, Reagan, and Bush were exciting.

In California, John Schmitz and Pete McCloskey filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior court to invalidate the California “winner take all” election system.  They were not successful.

On April 11-13, 1980, in Santa Clara, presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, was guest speaker and was endorsed by CRA.  Mike Curb, Lt. Governor, was the luncheon speaker, and Steve Frank of Los Angeles was elected CRA president that year.

The California Delegation to the Republican National Convention, July 12-18, 1980 in Detroit, Michigan, was like a CRA homecoming.  CRA past president, Dr. Tirso Del Junco, was a convention speaker.  Past Presidents Mike Evans, Dick Darling, Frank Adams and Truman Campbell attended, to name only a few.  Ronald Reagan became the Republican nominee. 

In November, the Press called the election “too close to call,” but never was election polling more discredited.  On November 6, 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected by a landslide.

When he was sworn in as President of the United States, the American hostages were freed in Iran.  Bells tolled in Washington D.C., and yellow ribbons were visible all over America.  Hopes were high.

At the April 1981 CRA Convention in Irvine, the second woman in CRA history was elected president, Jean Orr.  In March of 1982, CRA endorsed Bob Dornan for U.S. Senate, and for the third time, a woman was elected President of CRA, Coanne Cubete.

Attorney General George Deukmejian won the Republican nomination for Governor and Pete Wilson won the U.S. Senate nomination.

Deukmejian was elected Governor on November 2, 1982, defeating Tom Bradley.  Pete Wilson won the U.S. Senate seat over Jerry Brown.  No other Republicans were elected to state offices.  Republican losses nationwide were attributed to high unemployment rates. 

In 1983 the CRA embarked on its 50th anniversary.  Governor George Deukmejian was the guest of honor.

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