Fantasy Land

Disneyland Hotel: the food was gone by 9:20 p.m., not an hour into the OC Demo cratic Party's Election Night gathering. But the party faithful's political appe tites weren't nearly as voracious. Seven teen national and state seats were up for grabs in the county, but OC's Dems won just two: Lou Correa in the 69th Assembly District and Loretta Sanchez in the 47th Congressional. Of course, both candidates were incumbents, but no one seemed to care. “We will take over Orange County, wherever we should be,” 39th Con gressional District candidate Gill Kanel told the crowd. Kanel eventually lost to Ed Royce, 64 percent to 30 percent. Guess the Dems shouldn't be there. The idea that the Democrats can lay claim only to certain sections of the county—the Latino bits—was a popular one on Election Night. It's true that the Dems ran a candidate in every race—an achievement in itself for the anemic party. But it's also true that, other than the Correa and Sanchez campaigns, every one of those efforts was half-assed. Ex-Marine Peter Kouvelis was picked to run in the open 48th Con gressional seat only to vanish without a trace shortly after filing papers. Such facts did not intrude upon the Fantasy Land Democrats gathered at the Disneyland Hotel. “Organized labor has its sights set on the 45th District,” said one activist, speaking of the seat held by Dana Rohrabacher since 1988. “Not now, but in the future.” Ted Crissell, who was supposed to send Rohrabacher packing, echoed that prediction: “Whether it's this election cycle or the next, we will remove Dana Rohrabacher from Congress.” Better luck next time. It was about that time, just after 11 p.m., when the band—three middle-aged white guys—started singing James Brown's “I Feel Good.” Then the party picked up, not because of anything Correa or any other local Dem said, but because CNN announced that Gore was still close to Bush in Florida. Indeed, the close national race was all anyone in the hall seemed concerned about. And in that race, the bad guy was clear to everyone. “This election is not over yet,” yelled party loyalist John Hanna (see Letters, page 8) from the podium. “Al Gore would be president if not for Ralph Nader! It would be all over now if not for Nader being a spoiler!” That, too, is fantasy. Surveys showed many of Nader's supporters would have stayed the hell away from the polls if he hadn't run for president. And common sense suggests that Gore ran one of the worst campaigns in modern American history—quite possibly losing to a man who once said that his brother Jeb was the governor of Texas. Whenever Nader's name appeared on CNN, the crowd's thunderous boos filled the ballroom. Fifty years ago, the true believers in the hall wouldn't have booed the man fighting for corporate accountability and environmental protection. They wouldn't have called him a spoiler. They would have called him a Democrat. —By Anthony Pignataro

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