Oregon: Marxist from Multnomah

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After he had grubbed for several years at the grass roots, it seemed only right that handsome, hardworking Donald Hamerquist should be rewarded with an official role in Oregon's Democratic establishment. Thus a year ago, he was allowed to run unopposed for the post of committeeman for the 400th Precinct in Portland's Multnomah County and was duly elected 88 to 0. Hamerquist's harmony with the party was unbroken until last March, when an FBI informer revealed that he was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party. To the consternation of the Democrats, Hamerquist readily admitted to being a Communist and said that he had been a party organizer to boot. "I've been pretty successful, too," allows Hamerquist, now 28. "I've been a Communist for years and have never denied it. I don't know why anyone was surprised."

Nor did Hamerquist see why anyone should think he ought to give up his office. An attempt to launch a recall movement against him was knocked down by Democratic Attorney General Robert Y. Thornton, who held it illegal under state law. The Democrats were finally rescued by the legislature, which passed a bill prohibiting a person from holding office for one political party who is also a member of "another party." Last week, as a petition was filed under the new law to bring about Hamerquist's recall, the Marxist from Multnomah County was in Manhattan to discuss his next move with the Communist leadership. "The only thing that I can't understand about all this," he said, "is why nobody has talked about recall of my wife. At the same time that I was elected a committeeman, she was elected a committee woman. And she is a Communist too."