In a coup for conservatives, the Republican party, and businesses throughout much of Southern California, Dwight Robinson defeated Miguel Pulido for the Orange County cities’ representative on the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) Board. As reported by OCPolitical’s own Chris Nguyen earlier, having to win the majority vote of all Orange County mayors, both in the number of cities, and overall county population, Robinson garnered 21 cities and 54% of the County’s population, to Pulido’s 12 cities and 45% of the population. Pulido was Orange County’s representative on the AQMD for over a decade.
Robinson’s victory is significant as it flips the AQMD Board from 7-6 Democrat to 7-6 Republican, which will have considerable impact for many Southern California businesses.
Of his victory, Robinson said, “I am very proud of the broad based support I had across the spectrum that helped secured the votes I needed. I deeply care about air quality and the environment. I drive an electric car. I put solar panels on my house earlier this year. Equally important to me are jobs and the regional economy. Many of the things AQMD has been doing over the last decade have driven companies, jobs, and the middle class out of Southern California. I am dedicated to making sure that AQMD balances sensible environmental stewardship with middle class job retention.”
The race was marred by infighting from Republicans and rumors of Pulido offering support to mayors and their cities in exchange for their votes. The most curious (and in my opinion, disappointing) aspect was the battle that erupted between Irvine Councilman Jeff Lalloway and Mayor Steven Choi. As reported here, Choi was unavailable for the vote so he originally designated Lalloway as his voting representative. However, it was reported that Lalloway was planning on voting for Pulido, and Choi removed Lalloway and appointed Christina Shea to vote instead. Shea voted for Robinson, giving a size able chunk of population to Robinson. While Lalloway denied that he had made up his mind on who to vote for, his claim that the Orange County Republican party’s support for Robinson was a push by California Republican Party Jim Brulte to strong-arm local Republicans to vote lock-step with the party is curious given that the race pitted Robinson, a strong Republican conservative and pro-business candidate, against Pulido, an avowed liberal Democrat who recently admitted to six violations of the Political Reform Act. Pulido also previously appointed his brother as a part-time consultant to the AQMD, a position that paid more than $35,000 per year.