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The Lincoln Club of Orange County, through its political action committees, has shaped California and national politics for five decades.
Like many good stories, the Lincoln Club of Orange County’s begins with bloodshed. In 1962, Richard Nixon returned to California to run for Governor. He was considered a heavy favorite to beat Governor Pat Brown, but he had to get by the primary challenge of Orange County native Joe Shell in order to win the nomination. The primary campaign was nasty. Many observers believed that, even though he survived to win the nomination, Nixon had been so bloodied in the primary that he lost the general election against Pat Brown.
The business elite of Orange County, many of whom supported Nixon, believed that they should try to impose a business-like order on state politics and avoid such primary battles. But, instead of shunning Shell supporters, they reached out to them. The Nixon boosters offered the Shell men membership in the new Lincoln Club of Orange County.
Its founders included the most prominent businessmen in Orange County, including Dr. Arnold O. Beckman, the founder of Beckman Instruments, Walter Knott, the founder of Knott’s Berry Farm, and Si Fluor of the Fluor Corporation. President Richard Nixon and John Wayne were once members. The club membership is still comprised of the most public-spirited and prominent business men and women in our community today.
Members also include small business owners and professionals from all industries and professions. Hundreds of candidates throughout Orange County, our state, and across the nation owe their start to the Lincoln Club.
The club has played a pivotal role in the candidacies of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Pete Wilson, George Deukmejian, the recall of Gray Davis and the subsequent election of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Throughout its history, the Lincoln Club has stayed true to its founding principles and continues the important work of fighting to reduce the power and scope of government, pushing for lower taxes, and more freedom for us all.