About 20 senior Republican officials and politicians in Fairfax County vowed yesterday to heal the wounds that have divided conservatives and moderates in the party, but there were signs that hard feelings have not subsided.
Organizers of the Unity '87 drive said they will form a political action committee and undertake a countywide program to galvanize Republicans to support the party's candidates for the County Board of Supervisors in the Nov. 3 elections.
"The way we're going to win this election this fall is by mobilizing bodies," said Joe Ragan, a former county Republican chairman and a key adviser to county board Chairman John F. Herrity, a Republican.
While the Unity '87 organizers include members of both the conservative and moderate wings of the party, there was one conspicuous absence at the breakfast meeting in Tysons Corner. Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Benton K. Partin, a conservative who was ousted last year as party chairman by a group of moderates, was said to have a scheduling conflict, but several Republicans said privately they were skeptical that was the case.
In a telephone interview, Partin said he endorsed efforts to unite the party, but said he was still fuming about an internal GOP audit report last winter that criticized his management of the party's finances.
"You don't do things like that in a civilized society," said Partin.
He called the audit "fraudulent," maintained the party owes him $650 but has refused to admit it, and added that current party Chairman James D. Swinson "has had the opportunity to make an apology" but has not done so.
In contrast to most candidates for the county board, who have pledged not to accept campaign contributions from developers, the Unity '87 leaders have imposed no such restrictions on donations to their PAC.
Ragan said the group aimed to raise $100,000, but another organizer, Washington lawyer Ben Cotten, said $200,000 was a realistic target. The money will be spent for telephone banks, mailings and other efforts aimed at identifying Republican voters and getting them to the polls.
The strategists acknowledged that most of the party's candidates for the county board are in danger of losing unless extraordinary efforts are made to unite the party and get out the vote. Republicans hold five seats on the nine-member board.