After more than a decade of gleefully attacking presidents, first ladies, Democrats, moderates, communists, pro-choice groups, peaceniks, environmentalists, homosexuals and immigrants of every possible legal status, Rep. Robert K. Dornan finds himself secluded Friday with possibly the most difficult opponent of his career.
The California Republican lost his Orange County congressional seat to Democratic political newcomer Loretta Sanchez, ending his nine-term run as the nation’s most caustic conservative. And many people believe that the 63-year-old Dornan, whose tirades earned him a label as the “court jester” of the House, is almost solely responsible for his defeat.
“He just went too far, too often,” one fellow Republican said this week. “People got tired of his act. How else to explain it?”
Dornan stayed true to form in recent days, savaging his opponent, former supporters and illegal immigrants whom he claimed conspired to defeat him.
He has filed a formal complaint with the secretary of state’s office claiming widespread voter fraud, but so far officials say there is no evidence to substantiate the allegations.
But Dornan did not let his pending loss keep him from his busy schedule.
At a news conference last week, Dornan called Sanchez “inarticulate, flaky and totally unqualified” for the congressional seat. A few days ago, he lashed out at Republican Central Committee head William Dougherty because the GOP official supported Sanchez in the race.
“You are a disgrace to your baptism,” Dornan shouted at Dougherty. “You are a poor excuse for a Marine. You are a pathetic old senile man. You are a slimy coward.”
At various times, he referred to President Clinton as “sleazy, deceptive, draft-dodging, foul-mouthed” and called him a liar and a womanizer. Last year, Dornan alleged on the House floor that Clinton had lent “aid and comfort to the enemy” in Vietnam when he engaged in anti-war protests, a remark that his colleagues asked him to apologize for. Dornan refused.
Dornan once characterized California Sen. Barbara Boxer’s financial backers as the “coke-snorting, wife-swapping, baby-born-out-of-wedlock radical left.” He also attacked the sexual orientation of gay Congress members. Last year, he proposed legislation to bar gays and lesbians from access to classified government files, saying that their sexuality made them vulnerable to blackmail.
Dornan, a former actor and producer, suggested recently that he might work as a TV talk-show host or possibly work in radio.