Doris Allen (politician)

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Doris J. Allen (May 26, 1936 in Kansas City, Missouri – September 22, 1999, Colorado Springs) served in the California Assembly from 1982 to 1995, representing part of Orange County, and as Speaker of that body from June 5 to September 14, 1995, before being recalled from office. She was the first woman to be elected to that office.


Before entering politics, Allen owned a successful household lighting store. An amateur actress, she played the title role in the musical "Mame" in productions by the Westminster Community Theater and Sebastian's West in the early 1970s.


Based in Huntington Beach,[1] Allen was first elected to the California State Assembly in 1982 when she unseated Democratic incumbent Chet Wray. She compiled a relatively conservative record with special attention to environmental protection for her coastal district. Republicans gained a one-vote majority the House in 1995, threatening longtime Democratic Speaker Willie Brown's 15 year hold on power. Brown at first persuaded moderate Republican turned Independent Paul Horcher to keep him in power.

Meanwhile, Allen was running in a special election for the State Senate. She became enraged when GOP party leaders endorsed fellow assemblyman (Ross Johnson) with a more conservative voting record than hers, who had moved into the district to run. Allen lost the election. When Horcher was recalled from office and replaced by a more loyal Republican, Speaker Brown convinced a still-angry Allen to vote with Democrats and become Speaker herself, though Brown continued to lead the legislative body as head of the Democratic Caucus.

Allen's defection outraged her Republican colleagues, led by Curt Pringle, as well as her Republican constituents, who in November 1995 recalled her from office. Before her removal, Allen resigned as Speaker and handed the gavel over to another Republican who backed Brown, Brian Setencich. However, when Brown resigned his seat in the State Assembly to be sworn in as mayor of San Francisco, Setencich lost that vote, restoring the Republicans' majority electing Pringle as Speaker in January 1996. Setencich himself was defeated for reelection in that June's GOP primary.

Following her recall, Allen turned her back on politics and eventually moved away from California, though she did make one last quixotic bid for her old seat in 1998. Allen died of stomach and colon cancer at her home in Colorado Springs on September 22, 1999.

California Assembly
Preceded by
Chester B. "Chet" Wray
California State Assemblymember
71st District
Succeeded by
Mickey Conroy
Preceded by
Mickey Conroy
California State Assemblymember
67th District
Succeeded by
Scott Baugh
Political offices
Preceded by
Willie Brown
Speaker of the California State Assembly
June 5, 1995–September 14, 1995
Succeeded by
Brian Setencich

See also[edit]