Last night was definitely a big night in OC politics. Here are the top 10 stories:
#1. “Year of the Asian Woman” for OC Republicans – Republican Asian women dominated the electoral landscape last night. I can demonstrate that with one simple photostrip of winners:
The women in that photostrip are:
- State Senator-Elect Janet Nguyen
- State Assemblywoman-Elect Young Kim
- State Assemblywoman-Elect Ling-Ling Chang
- OC Supervisor-Elect Michelle Steel
- OC Supervisor-Elect Lisa Bartlett
- Yorba Linda Councilwoman-Elect Peggy Huang
- Cypress School Board Member-Elect Sandra Lee
- OC Water District Director-Elect Dina Nguyen
These candidates not only won their elections, but seven of the eight won in commanding fashion:
- Janet Nguyen won 60% of the vote against former Assemblyman Jose Solorio in the most competitive Senate seat in the state.
- Young Kim defeated incumbent Sharon Quirk-Silva 56%-44% in one of the most competitive Assembly seats in the state.
- Ling-Ling Chang won 64% of the vote after coming through a grueling primary.
- Michelle Steel won 62% of the vote in a Supervisorial runoff against Assemblyman Allan Mansoor.
- Lisa Bartlett won 55% of the vote in a Supervisorial runoff against Laguna Niguel Councilman Robert Ming.
- Peggy Huang came in first in a six-person field, even coming in ahead of her re-elected incumbent running mate, Tom Lindsey.
- Sandra Lee came in first in a four-person field, far outpacing three other candidates, who consisted of two incumbents and a former Mayor.
- Dina Nguyen was the only one with a close race, winning by 45.8%-42.1% in a three-way race for Orange County Water District.
The only Republican Asian woman who lost in Orange County last night was Westminster School Board candidate Bao Anh “Samantha” Nguyen. (Garden Grove City Council candidate Ruhina Khan is a Democrat. Laguna Woods City Council candidate Rae Tso and Fullerton Joint Union High School Board candidate Ho Jeong Lim are both NPP. Republican Cypress School Board Member-Elect Lydia Sondhi is not Asian; Sondhi is her married name.)
#1A. Janet Nguyen and Young Kim Capture OC Swing Seats to Break Democratic Supermajorities – Of the Republican Asian women who won last night, clearly Janet Nguyen and Young Kim’s victories were the biggest stories, as they each struck a blow to the supermajorities held by Democrats in the Senate and in the Assembly.
Janet Nguyen’s 60%-40% victory was so sweeping that she won 8 of the 10 cities in SD-34, losing only Anaheim and Santa Ana (she even won Long Beach).
Young Kim’s 56%-44% victory was so sweeping that she won 5 of the 6 cities in AD-65, losing only Stanton. Kim is the first Republican challenger to unseat an incumbent Democrat in a legislative race in 20 years.
#1B. Michelle Steel and Lisa Bartlett to Join Board of Supervisors – Board of Equalization Member Michelle Steel was widely expected to win the 2nd District Supervisor’s race after crushing Assemblyman Allan Mansoor by 25% in June and almost avoiding a run-off. She ended up beating Mansoor by 24% in the November run-off yesterday. Steel’s landslide victory was so strong that she carried every city in the district, including Costa Mesa, where Mansoor had served on City Council and as Mayor; she also won Mansoor’s 74th Assembly District.
Dana Point Mayor Lisa Bartlett was in the toss-up in the 5th District Supervisor’s race after coming in just 2% behind Laguna Niguel Councilman Robert Ming in June. She ended up beating Ming by 10% in the November run-off yesterday. Bartlett’s victory was so sweeping that she won every city in the district, except
Lyndon Johnson Laguna Niguel (I have no idea why I typed Lyndon Johnson; it was clearly a long election night).
This marks the second time two women will be serving on the Board of Supervisors concurrently (the first time is actually the present day wherein Supervisors Janet Nguyen and Pat Bates are serving concurrently). This is the first time two Asian Americans will serve concurrently on the Board of Supervisors.
#2 AD-74: Matt Harper Defeats Keith Curry, Even Winning Newport Beach – With independent expenditures helping Huntington Beach Mayor Matt Harper overcome Newport Beach Councilman Keith Curry’s massive fundraising advantage, Harper won by 18% yesterday after coming in 3% behind Curry in June. Harper’s victory was so sweeping that he won 5 of the 6 cities in AD-74, losing only Laguna Woods. To add insult to injury for Curry, Harper even won 55% of the vote in Newport Beach.
#3 Major Changes in Anaheim – Voters in the County’s biggest city cast their ballots on a number of meaty issues. First, 68% of Anaheim voters approved switching from the current at-large Council election system to a vote-by-district system. 53% of Anaheim voters approved increasing the size of the Council from 5 to 7 (Mayor and 6 Council members).
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait was easily re-elected, with 54.1% of the vote in a four-way race, outpacing the nearest candidate. Tait ally James Vanderbilt appears to have defeated Anaheim Councilwoman Gail Eastman, thereby shrinking the 4-1 majority against Tait to a 3-2 majority instead.
#4 Irvine Forms Republican Supermajority, Ousting Larry Agran – In a sweeping victory, Republicans won every seat on yesterday’s ballot for Irvine City Council. Mayor Steven Choi was re-elected. Council candidate Lynn Schott came in first, and Councilman Jeff Lalloway came in second place to win re-election. Democrat Larry Agran, who lost control of the Council majority in 2012, found himself in fourth place, falling behind even his own ally Melissa Fox, who fell 0.4% short of winning a Council seat. Republicans now wield a 4-1 supermajority in Irvine.
#5 Republicans Take Huntington Beach – In another sweeping victory, Republicans swept all four seats available on the Huntington Beach City Council, unseating incumbent Democrats Joe Shaw and Connie Boardman. (The other two seats are held by termed-out Republican Joe Carchio and Assemblyman-Elect Matt Harper.) This sweep replaces the liberal majority with a conservative majority on the Huntington Beach City Council.
In the Huntington Beach City Attorney’s race, conservative Republican Michael Gates unseated Republican incumbent Jennifer McGrath.
#6 Yorba Linda Supermajority Against YLRRR – In yet another sweeping victory, the slate of Peggy Huang and Tom Lindsey won both seats on the ballot in Yorba Linda. For the first time since it began fielding candidates in 2006, Yorba Linda Residents for Responsible Representation failed to win any Council seats in an election. YLRRR held a Council majority from 2008-2012 and even held a supermajority from 2010-2012. YLRRR has a pesky habit of turning on the people they formerly supported (no fewer than three Councilmembers backed by YLRRR over the past eight years found themselves targeted for defeat by YLRRR).
With YLRRR-backed Councilmen Mark Schwing and John Anderson, YLRRR found themselves one seat short of a majority this year. They launched an ambitious recall bid to try to gain a Council supermajority. With the October recall defeated by the voters, the November re-election of Tom Lindsey, and the November election of Peggy Huang (see story 1 above) to replace the retiring John Anderson, YLRRR’s ambitious bid for a 4-1 supermajority in 2014 has ended with them on the losing end of a 4-1 supermajority, with only Schwing in office. This could well spell the beginning of the end for YLRRR.
#7 Newport Beach Clean Sweep – In one more sweeping victory (anyone notice a recurring theme in these stories?), the slate of Duffy Duffield (of Duffy Boat fame), Kevin Muldoon, and Scott Peotter captured the three contested Newport Beach City Council seats (Diane Dixon won the uncontested District 1 seat). In the District 3 seat, Duffield even managed to unseat Mayor Rush Hill by a stunning 2-1 margin. Duffield, Muldoon, and Peotter pledged to bring fiscal responsibility to Newport Beach City government, opposing the dock tax and expensive new City Hall.
#8 Rancho Santa Margarita Eliminates Council Minority – In possibly the County’s most sweeping victory, the two-man Rancho Santa Margarita Council minority has been eliminated. Majority Councilmembers Tony Beall and Carol Gamble were not on the ballot this year. Three seats were on the ballot this year. Majority Councilmember Brad McGirr was re-elected. Candidates Jerry Holloway (himself a former Councilmember) and Mike Vaughn were elected to replace minority Councilmembers Steve Baric and Jesse Petrilla. Baric was simply retiring and was not seeking a second term. Petrilla (who had run unsuccessfully for the Assembly in June, coming in second among Republicans to Beall-backed Bill Brough) was running for re-election but ended up 3.7% behind third-place Vaughn who captured the last Council seat. Additionally, voters rejected Measure Z, an initiative to change the zoning classification of Rancho Santa Margarita’s former Nissan site, by a margin of 54%-46%. The Council minority had supported Measure Z while the Council majority opposed it. The newly elected candidates both opposed Measure Z. As with Anaheim, Newport Beach, and Yorba Linda, the majority and minority members on this year’s ballot are all Republicans.
#9 Unions Strengthen Grip on Capistrano Unified School District and Ocean View School District – In a rare liberal sweeping victory in Orange County, the teachers’ union won all three seats on the ballot in the Capistrano Unified School District, growing their 5-2 supermajority into a 6-1 supermajority, leaving Jim Reardon as the sole trustee to oppose the teachers’ union. Union-backed Martha McNicholas defeated OC Political blogger Craig Alexander for the Trustee Area 4 seat being vacated by the retiring Anna Bryson. Union-backed incumbent Lynn Hatton beat back a challenge by Julie Collier in Trustee Area 7. Most surprisingly, in Trustee Area 6, union-backed Gila Jones unseated incumbent Ellen Addonizio, and Jones won by a larger margin than McNicholas or Hatton did. (Jones was the Democrat who ran against Republican State Senator Mark Wyland in 2010.)
In the Ocean View School District, union-backed Jack Souders and Joseph Gaglione won two of the three seats up for election this year, unseating incumbents Tracy Pellman and John Ortiz. While Souders and Gaglione were openly backed by the union, Pellman and incumbent John Briscoe (who won the other seat up for election) each accused the other of being secretly backed by the union.
#10 Claude Parrish Unseats Assessor Webster Guillory – In only the second time in the last half-century, a sitting Countywide elected official has been defeated for re-election. With controversies over his nomination signature collection and three felony charges from the District Attorney related to the nomination signature collection, incumbent Webster Guillory was unable to survive a challenge from former Board of Equalization Member Claude Parrish. Guillory had defeated Parrish 53%-47% in 2010. In this 2014 rematch, Parrish defeated Guillory by the same 53%-47% margin. (The last time a Countywide elected official lost a re-election bid was when John Dean unseated six-term incumbent County Superintendent of Schools Robert Peterson in 1990. No one else has lost since at least the mid-1960s.) With Republican Parrish replacing NPP Guillory as Assessor and Republican Eric Woolery replacing Democrat Jan Grimes as Auditor-Controller, Republicans will hold every Countywide office for the first time in recent memory.
Honorable Mention: Special Elections on the Way – With the elections of Supervisor Janet Nguyen to the State Senate and State Senator Mimi Walters to Congress, there will now be a flurry of special elections. Early in 2015, special elections will need to be held to fill the remaining two years on Nguyen’s Supervisorial term and Walters’s Senate term. In the likely event that an Assemblymember wins the race to replace Walters, another special election will be triggered in mid-2015 to fill the Assembly seat.
Honorable Mention: City Treasurers and Board of Equalization – Two Secret Paths to Power – It’s quite interesting what useful platforms City Treasurer’s seats and Board of Equalization seats can be for gaining other elected offices:
- November 2010: Huntington Beach City Treasurer Shari Freidenrich elected Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector, defeating Deputy Treasurer
- June 2014: Orange City Treasurer Eric Woolery elected Orange County Auditor-Controller, defeating Deputy Auditor-Controller
- November 2014
- Board of Equalization Member Michelle Steel elected an Orange County Supervisor, defeating Assemblyman
- Former Board of Equalization Member Claude Parrish elected Orange County Assessor, defeating incumbent
- Brea City Treasurer Glenn Parker elected a Brea City Councilman, defeating incumbent
- Placentia City Treasurer Craig Green elected a Placentia City Councilman, defeating incumbent
On a related note, State Controller-Elect Betty Yee is the second consecutive Board of Equalization Member to be elected State Controller. Eight years ago, Board of Equalization Member John Chiang was elected State Controller, and last night, he has been elected State Treasurer.
Honorable Mention: Mimi Walters Elected to Congress – This doesn’t merit reaching the top 10 because it was a foregone conclusion that Senator Mimi Walters would crush Democrat Drew Leavens in the 45th Congressional District. The real contest was in June when Walters managed to be the top Republican vote-getter and ensured a Democrat made the top two. The only reason this gets an honorable mention is because of how rare it is to have a new Member of Congress.