Death Calls OC GOP Pioneer

Many factors turned Orange County into the wacky-conservative wonderland it's been for decades, and one of the key instigators passed away this Monday. Former California State Assembly leader Joe Shell never lived in Orange County (although his daughter works at Cal State Fullerton in some capacity that currently escapes me), but his failed 1962 gubernatorial primary run against local boy Richard Nixon galvanized the county's conservative grassroots activists. The GOP infighting between its moderate (who supported Nixon) and caveman (who backed Shell) wings during the primary spurred a group of Orange County businessmen to create the Lincoln Club. And Shell's supporters went on to rally behind Newport Beach dentist Nolan Frizzelle when he sought the presidency of the California Republican Assembly in 1964. That year, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater lost badly to incumbent Lyndon Johnson in the presidential election—but Orange County's conservative cred was secured. And the rest, as they say, is historia.


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