PEOPLE

Veteran Hill Staffer Started as an Intern for Gerald Ford

Richard Dykema is chief of staff to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.
National Journal
Christopher Snow Hopkins
Christopher Snow Hopkins
Sept. 2, 2013, 8:07 a.m.

In 1988, Richard (Rick) Dykema and his fath­er met with Dana Rohra­bach­er, a speech­writer for Pres­id­ent Re­agan, in the White House mess hall. The top­ic of con­ver­sa­tion: an open House seat in Los Angeles County.

“We had a good meet­ing,” the young­er Dykema re­called. “I gave Mr. Rohra­bach­er some ad­vice on how to smoke out his com­pet­i­tion on some con­ser­vat­ive is­sues”¦. The idea was to get his op­pon­ent to be spe­cif­ic, rather than just giv­ing plat­it­udes.”

Rohra­bach­er, who was raised in Hunt­ing­ton Beach, Cal­if., re­turned to South­ern Cali­for­nia to chal­lenge the front-run­ner, an ab­ras­ive loc­al of­fi­cial re­viled by the GOP es­tab­lish­ment. Among those try­ing to thwart her cam­paign was the eld­er Dykema, the founder of an Or­ange, Cal­if.-based fin­an­cial-ser­vices com­pany and a Re­pub­lic­an king­maker.

“My dad didn’t like Har­ri­ett Wieder,” Dykema said. “She was so ob­nox­ious that a lot of the loc­al people wanted to [send] her to Wash­ing­ton just so they wouldn’t have to deal with her.”

Ul­ti­mately, Wieder’s cam­paign would be un­done by a 25-year-old lie.

A few weeks after meet­ing Dykema, who was serving as a le­gis­lat­ive as­sist­ant un­der the late Rep. Herb Bate­man, R-Va., Rohra­bach­er in­vited him to be his cam­paign man­ager. “I turned him down at first,” Dykema said, “But I was im­pressed enough that I used two weeks of my va­ca­tion time to go out and do what I could to help. It was dur­ing that time I dis­covered that “¦ his op­pon­ent had lied on her re­sume.”

Wieder, who did not at­tend col­lege, had claimed for most of her adult life that she had gradu­ated from Wayne State Uni­versity in De­troit. Her fate was sealed a few days later when Wieder’s press sec­ret­ary im­per­son­ated a re­port­er to gath­er in­tel­li­gence about an ef­fort to re­move his boss from Or­ange County’s Board of Su­per­visors, gen­er­at­ing a me­dia firestorm.

Dykema has been Rohra­bach­er’s top aide ever since help­ing him get elec­ted to Con­gress 25 years ago. He is one of the longest-serving chiefs of staff on Cap­it­ol Hill and has been in and out of the ma­jor­ity twice. “The minor­ity can be more fun, be­cause you don’t have any re­spons­ib­il­ity, and you can just do stuff to get pub­li­city,” Dykema said, with re­fresh­ing candor. “That said, you al­ways want to be in the ma­jor­ity.”

Now in his 13th term, Rohra­bach­er is in a cat­egory of his own. The self-styled “surfer Re­pub­lic­an” — who once sang in a folk band called The Gold­wa­ters — has flum­moxed Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans alike with his dogged op­pos­i­tion to a path to cit­izen­ship for un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants. In June, he is­sued a threat to the highest-rank­ing Re­pub­lic­an in Con­gress.

“If Speak­er Boehner moves for­ward and per­mits [im­mig­ra­tion re­form] to come to a vote [without the sup­port] of the ma­jor­ity of the Re­pub­lic­ans in the House “¦ he should be re­moved as speak­er,” Rohra­bach­er said on World Net Daily Ra­dio.

A nat­ive of Long Beach, Cal­if., Dykema was stu­dent-body pres­id­ent in high school and at­ten­ded Calv­in Col­lege in Grand Rap­ids, Mich. Dur­ing the spring break of his fresh­man year, he met Frank Mey­er, the top aide to then-House Minor­ity Lead­er Ger­ald Ford, R-Mich., in Wash­ing­ton’s Chris­ti­an Re­formed Church. This trans­lated in­to a sum­mer in­tern­ship in Ford’s of­fice, which al­lowed Dykema to in­gra­ti­ate him­self with the Re­pub­lic­an es­tab­lish­ment. In Au­gust 1968, he at­ten­ded the Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­at­ing con­ven­tion in Miami.

Re­turn­ing to Grand Rap­ids, Dykema was elec­ted pres­id­ent of the Calv­in Col­lege Re­pub­lic­ans but later took a leave of ab­sence to run his fath­er’s un­suc­cess­ful cam­paign for the City Coun­cil. Now con­vinced that he wanted to pur­sue a ca­reer in polit­ics, Dykema then went straight to Wash­ing­ton, where he re­ceived a de­gree in com­puter sci­ence from the Uni­versity of Mary­land.

Be­fore join­ing Rohra­bach­er’s of­fice, Dykema served as an aide to then-Reps. Frank An­nun­zio, D-Ill., John Cavanaugh, D-Neb., and Rohra­bach­er’s pre­de­cessor, Dan Lun­gren, R-Cal­if. Now 60, Dykema is an eld­er at the Chris­ti­an Re­formed Church and sings in the choir.

What We're Following See More »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
3 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
5 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
6 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×