Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Why did 100 people pay $50 apiece Wednesday night to attend a fundraiser for the New Democratic Party of Puerto Rico?
The answer is Franklin Delano Lopez, who is running for state chairman of the party. But more important, Lopez was an early supporter of Jimmy Carter - very early. He spent most of 1976 here on the mainland campaigning for him.
So Wednesday night Carter's people turned out at the newly opened Biltmore Ballroom (near 18th Street and Columbia Road NW) - where the ladies' rooms are decorated with snapshots of ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov - to support Lopez in his political quest.
"We take care of our own," explained one White House employe. "Lopez put out for Jimmy, so now we put out for Lopez."
The fund-raiser for the New Democratic Party was a culmination of events that began during the 1976 presidential primary campaign. The NDP supports Puerto Rican statehood, and they also supported Carter against the other presidential primary candidates in 1976. The reward - a chance to be the official Democratic party representatives as determined by this year's September primary in Puerto Rico.
"Lopez was one of our earliest supporters, and a great personal friend," said presidential assistant Tim Kraft, one of the last guests to arrive following a late Cabinet meeting.
Kraft, who recently was promoted from presidential appointments secretary to the White House senior staff, said of his new rank: "Aw shucks, I'm just another pretty facein the PR job."
It was a homey evening, highlighted by one of those celebrity roasts of Lopez by, among others, Kraft; Terry O'Connell, Carter's California campaign manager; and Gabriel Guerra, a former Carter campaigner and now with the State Department, who translated Kraft's remarks - spoken in Spanish - for the group.