Bob Dornan

Infobox Congressman
name=Bob Dornan

place of birth =New York City, New York
date of birth =Birth date and age|1933|4|3|mf=y
state = California
district = 27th, 38th and 46th
preceded = Alphonzo E. Bell, Jr.
Jerry M. Patterson
succeeded = Mel Levine
Loretta Sanchez
term = 1977-1983
spouse=Sallie Hansen (m. April 16, 1955)

Robert Kenneth "Bob" Dornan (born April 3, 1933) is a Republican and former member of the United States House of Representatives from California and a vocal pro-life advocate, and anti-gay activist.

A boisterous former actor and television talk show host, Dornan had a flair for the dramatic that drew him supporters and detractors well beyond his congressional districts. Though never a major power in Washington, he became one of the most well-known members of the House of Representatives and has been described as "one of the leading firebrands among American politicians".Michael Barone and Grant Ujifusa, "The Almanac of American Politics" 1996, National Journal Inc.]


Dornan attended Loyola Marymount University until 1953. At age 19, Dornan volunteered to join the United States Air Force. During his time in the USAF, he survived two emergency parachute ejections and two "dead stick" forced landings (including one of an F-100). Dornan also served as a photographer during the Vietnam War and flew relief flights into Biafra. He was an active duty serviceman until 1958, reaching the rank of Captain. [ Biographical Directory of the United States Congress] ] He served in the reserves until 1975.

Around the same time, Dornan participated in the civil rights movement, attending the March on Washington and assisting in voter registration efforts in Philadelphia, Mississippi.Fact|date=August 2008

Dornan was also involved in entertainment. He starred in the movie "The Starfighters", which was featured on "Mystery Science Theater 3000". He acted in television series, including a frequent role as Capt. Fowler on "Twelve O'Clock High" and smaller roles on "Bewitched" and "I Dream of Jeannie." Dornan was also an Emmy-award winning television talk show host on "Tempo" and "The Robert K. Dornan Show" broadcast from Los Angeles from 1967 to 1973.


Dornan moved into politics in 1973 as national spokesman for the Citizens for Decency Through Law advocacy group. He made an unsuccessful run for mayor of Los Angeles the same year. In 1976, Dornan was elected to the House of Representatives, representing the 27th Congressional District in western Los Angeles County. He was re-elected twice. He was such an unswerving advocate for the development of the B-1 bomber, that he was soon nicknamed "B-1 Bob" Dornan. After the 1980 census, Congressman Phillip Burton redrew California's congressional map. One of the affected Republicans was Dornan. Rather than face almost certain defeat, he opted instead to run for the United States Senate in 1982. Entering the race 10 months late, he finished fourth in the Republican primary behind future California Governor Pete Wilson, who won in November.

Dornan moved to Garden Grove, in more Republican Orange County. In the 1984 election, he achieved victory in the 38th District in central Orange County, defeating 10-year incumbent Jerry M. Patterson. He was re-elected five times. During this time, he served on the Intelligence Committee.

Dornan made headlines in March 1985 for a confrontation with Representative Thomas Downey (D-NY) on the House floor. Downey asked Dornan about comments he had made calling Downey "a draft-dodging wimp". According to Downey, Dornan grabbed him by the collar and tie, said "It's good you're being protected by the sergeant-at-arms. If I saw you outside, it would be a different story," and threatened him "with some form of bodily harm". Dornan claimed he was merely straightening Downey's tie and refused to apologize for the incident or the derogatory comment. A Dornan aide said "It will be a cold day in hell before he gets an apology from Bob Dornan." ["Dornan Won't Apologize for Wimp Remark", "Los Angeles Times", Mar 5, 1985. pg. 2.]

Dornan had one of the most conservative voting records in Congress.Fact|date=February 2007 He did have what some would call liberal views, including being a major sponsor of animal protection acts and was recognized by PeTA.

In 1995 he received a minor reprimand from the House for stating in a floor speech that President Bill Clinton had "given aid and comfort to the enemy" during the Vietnam War. In 1996, Dornan ran for President of the United States, using his campaign primarily as a vehicle to continue to criticize Clinton. In a GOP debate in Iowa on January 13, Dornan called Clinton a "criminal" and a "pathological liar." When asked why voters should choose Dornan over his Republican rivals to challenge Clinton in the general election, he argued that he had more children and grandchildren than the others, with only Richard Lugar coming anywhere near him on that score. He finished with less than one percent of the vote in almost every primary.Fact|date=February 2007

Controversial statements

During his political career, Dornan became known for his colorful, controversial, or offensive statements. Among his remarks:

*During a House debate in 1994, Dornan outed fellow Republican representative Steve Gunderson, accusing him of having a "revolving door on his closet." [Dina ElBoghdady, "Dornan Accuses Fellow Republican of Being Gay", States News Service, March 24, 1994]
*In a 1986 U.S. House speech, he called Soviet journalist Vladimir Posner a "disloyal, betraying little Jew who sits there on television claiming that he is somehow or other a newsman." [United Press International, "Lawmaker Apologizes for 'Inelegant' Words", "New York Times", Mar 1, 1986, pg. 1.11.] This was the only statement Dornan apologized for, saying, "That's the only thing in my life I ever lost sleep over".Francis X. Clines, [ " Appearing Nightly: Robert Dornan, Master of the Put-Down"] , "New York Times", June 27, 1995] Dornan also said that he intended "to say 'Judas,' not 'Jew,'" as a rebuttal to Posner's insistence that the Soviet Union was free of anti-Semitism.
*"Every lesbian spear chucker in this country is hoping I get defeated." — to a Los Angeles television reporter in 1992 regarding a female challenger in the primary election. [Romano, Lois "The Reliable Source", "Washington Post", June 4, 1992, pg. c.03.]
*On a January 28, 1994 appearance on "Politically Incorrect", Dornan declared it was "The Year of the Penis" due to recent events in the news. In reference to this comment, Representative Barney Frank noted "Bob Dornan isn't even rational on the House floor. You can't expect him to be rational on "Politically Incorrect"." [Jennifer Senior, "When Politicians Get Silly", "New York Times", Mar 6, 1994. pg. A.1.]
*"You are a slimy coward. Go register in another party." — to fellow Republican William Dougherty after he supported Dornan's opponent in 1996. ["Time Magazine", Dec. 2, 1996 v148 n25 p28(1)]
*"Don't use the word 'gay' unless it's an acronym for 'Got Aids Yet?'." []

In 1994, a 120 page book of quotations of Dornan was compiled by Nathan Callahan and William Payton and published as "Shut Up, Fag!" The quotation that gives the book the title was actually shouted by Dornan's wife, Sallie, at an AIDS activist during an Orange County town forum. Dornan claimed the book was backed by director Oliver Stone, whom Dornan labeled "a Bolshevik enemy". [Faye Fiore, "'Shut Up' Is Not in Dornan's Vocabulary", "Los Angeles Times", Jul 15, 1994, p. 3.]

Dornan's comments and behavior have led his political opponents to question his mental health. Mike Kaspar of the Orange County Democratic Party said "The primary issue is Bob Dornan, himself. I think his character and his own sanity are an issue here." [Dana Parsons, "Democrats Unveil Weapon Against Dornan — Dornan", "Los Angeles Times", May 4, 1994, pg. 1.] At a White House Correspondents Dinner, Al Franken (who is actually a friend of Dornan) joked "having Al D'Amato leading an ethics investigation is like getting Bob Dornan to head up a mental health task force." [Mark Schapiro, [ "The Salon Interview: Al Franken"] ,] Michael Moore devoted an entire chapter of his book "Downsize This!" to his efforts to get Dornan involuntarily committed for psychiatric examination. [Michael Moore, "Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American", Harper, 1997]


Dornan's district, which was renumbered the 46th after the 1990 census, had always leaned Democratic, but became even more so when it absorbed a considerably larger number of Latino voters than he had previously represented. After failing to win the GOP presidential nomination in 1996, Dornan ran for reelection to the House against Loretta Sanchez, a former Republican who had switched parties and run as a Democrat. Dornan lost by 979 votes.

Following the narrow defeat, Dornan alleged that Sanchez's winning margin was provided by illegal voting from non-U.S. citizens. A thirteen-month House of Representatives investigation ensued, during which Sanchez was seated provisionally, pending the inquiry. [ [ - News - News stories about Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties in Florida, from the newspapers of record. - ] ] . A task force found that 748 votes had been cast illegally--624 from non-citizens in addition to 124 that had already been thrown out by California officials. This was not enough to overturn Sanchez' margin of victory and she was allowed to keep her seat. [ [ Proof Of Illegal Voters Falls Short, Keeping Sanchez In House - February 7, 1998 ] ]

Attempt to revive political career

Dornan sought a rematch against Sanchez in 1998, but was badly defeated.

In 2004, Dornan challenged Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a fellow Republican, in the primary. Dornan charged Rohrabacher with being soft on terrorism and being too close to Islamic extremists. However, he lost by an 84% to 16% margin. Dornan remained in his Virginia home, appearing at conservative functions and conservative talk radio shows. Fact|date=February 2007

During the summer of 2005, Dornan expressed interest in the 48th Congressional District seat that became vacant when Chris Cox resigned to become Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Dornan eventually declined to run. Fact|date=February 2007

In December 2005, Dornan substituted for radio talk show host Michael Savage, criticizing George W. Bush for not moving for a formal Declaration of War after 9/11. He did so again on 12 April 2006. Fact|date=February 2007

Dornan is currently an advocate for federal pro-life legislation in association with the American Life League. []


*Dornan is a nephew of Jack Haley, who played the Tin Man in "The Wizard of Oz".

*Dornan claims that he and Dick Darman, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget during the administration of George H. W. Bush, nearly got into a fistfight in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol on October 16, 1990, the night the U.S. House of Representatives voted for Bush's 1990 tax increase. At the time, Darman was lobbying House Republicans to vote for the Bush tax increase, while Dornan was a vociferous opponent of the tax increase.



External links

* [ Official website] (last updated February 2004)
* [ Bob Dornan] at IMDb

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