Charles Sparks Thomas is a prosperous Los Angeles cloak-&-suit merchant. He has never run for office or made a political speech, and never wants to. Until a few months ago, his closest brush with politics was a matter of geography; he was born next door to Bess Truman's girlhood home in Independence, Mo., 48 years ago.

Now Charlie Thomas is the busiest Republican in heavily Democratic Los Angeles County. Yeasty young party members are flocking to his campaign—although he is not running for any office. GOPoliticians are cagily watching its progress and wondering...

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