WE CAN SEE it now: In the year 2050, 143-year-old Roy P. Drachman regales his Tucson CitiStar readers with a tale from the past.
This particular remembrance of things past isn't about how he enticed Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck here for spring training, or how he convinced Howard Hughes to locate a branch office in Tucson.
No, this one is about how he and the boys, among the heaviest of Tucson's heavy hitters, got together and had a big shebang in the Santa Catalina Foothills at the Westin La Paloma on a March night waaay back in 2000 -- all for Steve Soboroff, a protégé seeking to be elected mayor of Los Angeles the next year.
An ever-pleasant capo di tutti capi of the real estate universe, Drachman and his wife, Sally, are joining car dealer/banker Jim and Vicki Click; legendary land speculator Don and Joan Diamond; and homebuilder Bill and Brenda Viner to kick up desert dollars for Soboroff, a tycoon deal-maker in his own right.
The quartet of couples is providing Tucsonans not just with an opportunity to support a University of Arizona alumnus, but also to act like players in L.A. politics -- and early players, at that. Mayor Richard Riordan's handpicked successor, Soboroff has nearly 13 months of campaigning ahead of him. With millionaire businessman Riordan confined to just two terms, Soboroff and the others will run in a non-partisan primary in April 2001. The top two compete in a June runoff if no one achieves a majority in the primary.
Donors can let loose with $1,000 apiece at Soboroff's homecoming, a cocktail party at La Paloma on Tuesday, March 21.
"With this group, he can leave here with 40 to 50 grand," said one longtime real-estate pro who said he'll be attending the party.
Soboroff says he'll need every bit of it. In fact, he says he will need between $5 million and $6 million for his campaign to overcome the name-identification advantages his opponents have built through long political careers. Los Angeles political analysts predict he'll have to cough up about $1 million of his own money.
Drachman, who summers in La Jolla, said in an interview this week that he met Soboroff some 30 years ago when he was a regular guest lecturer at UA real-estate classes.
"We've kept in touch and remained friends," Drachman says. "He's been very successful in business and as a leader in social causes."
The last of the five-paragraph invitation note reads, "It is not often we have the opportunity to help a friend achieve a high-profile political position where he can positively influence the lives of millions of people." That's a modest line from people who have bought and sold members of Congress.
Soboroff, 51, earned bachelor's and master's degrees in real estate from the UA in 1970 and 1971. This is the first of several out-of-L.A. fundraisers he says friends are throwing. Chicago, New York and San Francisco are other cities on his tour.
"I think this is certainly good for me," he says of the Tucson event. "But it's also good for Tucson and for the UA. I help raise awareness of the UA. I'm always talking about what a great university it is, over and over."
Drachman, Soboroff said in an interview from his west Los Angeles office, "was my mentor. I got my first check from him."
That would be for the Marie Callender's restaurant Soboroff put on Drachman's property on Wilmot Road south of Broadway.
Soboroff has made a career out of deals like that, particularly for Circuit City and Target stores. He filled the commercial area along Oracle west of the Tucson Mall with Toys R Us, Lenscrafters and another Circuit City.
In L.A., he has been described as Riordan's untiring point man for downtown, including being the force for the shiny new Staples Arena, the new home of the Lakers and Clippers, as well as a redevelopment in the $2 billion Alameda Corridor project.
Soboroff is chairman of Big Brothers of Greater Los Angeles and has been active in the organization since his college days. He also is chairman of the city's Recreation and Parks Commission and served on a school construction and repair oversight commission.
Drachman says he was pleased that Riordan, who ran on a pro-business and law-and-order platform, is endorsing Soboroff.
"I thought that was a pretty good recommendation," Drachman says.
And one that can cut both ways, particularly because of the fallout over the police corruption case stemming from a scandal in the LAPD's Rampart Division, where there are revelations that police framed innocent people, beat others, and even shot others without justification.