THE STATE ELECTION : LaRouche Trounced on All Fronts but Vows to Keep TryingNovember 06, 1986|KEVIN RODERICK | Times Staff Writer
After toiling for a year to turn fear of AIDS into political deliverance, Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. was faced Wednesday with the need to come up with a fresh issue to keep the nation's best-financed extremist faction from fading back into obscurity.
Everywhere LaRouche's organization appeared on the ballot, it was trounced in Tuesday's elections. Proposition 64, the AIDS initiative he inspired, was beaten by wide margins in every county of California and lost statewide by more than 2 to 1.
LaRouche candidates also lost badly in seven other states, including two celebrated Illinois races where followers had earlier won places on the Democratic Party ticket after calling for quarantine of AIDS patients.
Not Dead Yet
But LaRouche and his critics both warned Wednesday that his unconventional band of followers--which has grown from a few dozen 1960s campus radicals into an international political empire with a history of violence and an estimated $20 million in yearly income--should not be given up for dead.
"What I represent is a growing movement," LaRouche said by telephone Wednesday on KGO Radio in San Francisco, promising to keep campaigning for new AIDS laws. "The movement is becoming stronger all the time. . . . "
Irwin Suall, director of fact finding for the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, said he agrees that the ballot losses will not diminish the activities of LaRouche's groups, which he regards as dangerously anti-Semitic.
"The election results are not going to come to them as any great shock," Suall said. "They know they don't really have any political support."
LaRouche draws his backing and financial support from older, disaffected people who do not like the way America is changing but feel powerless to do anything about it, according to a study of LaRouche political contributors by professors John C. Green and James L. Guth at Furman University in South Carolina.
That slice of American culture does not really care that LaRouche keeps losing elections, and is likely to keep contributing money to him, Green said Wednesday.
"Even in the most democratic country in the world, there are a lot of unhappy people," he said. "We found they were profoundly alienated--pessimistic about their own lives, pessimistic about the future of the country, not trusting anybody."
In California, the election results provided a convincing repudiation of the LaRouche organization's strategy to dress up Proposition 64 as a modest measure that would only impose proved health practices to fight AIDS.
Not Political Issue
It was also seen by opponents as a clear sign that voters will not let something as serious as AIDS be turned into a political tool. "The margin of victory shows there is no sentiment out there to make this a political issue," said Davis Mixner, the chief opposition strategist.
Opponents compiled an arsenal of high-powered critics of the measure, from Gov. George Deukmejian and the leaders of both major political parties to the nation's leading physicians and AIDS experts. The medical angle was played up in television and radio ads, which did not mention LaRouche because the campaign's in-house polls found that voters did not care who was behind the measure.
"We had to make the voters feel they would be safer if they voted against Proposition 64," Mixner said.
A sampling of voters on Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times Poll found, however, that intensely negative feelings about LaRouche developed during the campaign.
Ranks With Khomeini
Among those polled who knew who LaRouche is, 65% said they view him unfavorably. Only 4% said they felt favorable about him. The only other public figure to register so unpopularly in voter polls in recent times has been Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, said I. A. Lewis, director of the poll. Despite the strong feelings, almost a third of the voters said they did not even know LaRouche.
LaRouche gained nationwide notoriety on Oct. 6 when an army of 300 FBI agents and other law enforcement officers raided his Leesburg, Va., headquarters to seize financial records. Later that day, a federal grand jury in Boston indicted five LaRouche organizations and 10 followers in connection with an alleged nationwide scheme of credit card fraud and conspiracy.
LaRouche was not indicted, but he accused the White House of masterminding the raid on orders from Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev and also sent President Reagan a message vowing to resist arrest with force.
Also during the campaign, the office of California Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp announced that it had found some fraud in the signature-gathering process that qualified Proposition 64 for the ballot. Several states also disclosed that they were investigating LaRouche financial activities, several lawsuits were filed nationwide that charged LaRouche fund-raisers with bilking elderly donors, and the assets of the LaRouche committee that sponsored Proposition 64 were frozen by a Superior Court judge.