Even though the 2012 Presidential Election just ended a few months ago, many candidates are already putting the pieces together for the next campaign.
In 2014, I suspect there will only be two competitive state legislative races in Orange County: SD 34 (Correa) and AD 65 (Quirk-Silva). In this post, I will focus on SD 34 and save AD 65 for another day.
By any standard measures, SD 34 is a swing district. Democrats outnumbered Republicans by less than a percentage point. The district voted heavily in favor of Proposition 8. The incumbent Lou Correa is termed-out in 2014.
Here is my analysis of this race:
The most active candidate on the Republican side is Supervisor Janet Nguyen. She started plotting for this seat back in 2011 when she endorsed Long Beach Councilman Gary DeLong for Congress over Los Alamitos Councilman Troy Edgar in exchange for the support of LA Supervisor Don Knabe.
You may wonder why is the support of Don Knabe important? It is because the new SD 34 have a sizable portion of Los Angeles.
Janet also lucked-out when then-campaign treasurer Kindee Durkee cleaned out the accounts of Senator Lou Correa and Assemblyman Jose Solorio. One of these two politicians were supposed to challenge Janet in 2012. Instead, the 1st District Supervisor faced a token candidate and didn’t have to spend a whole lot of money for her re-election. Janet could be sitting on $300,000 – $350,000 right now.
Another Republican candidate in this race is former Assemblyman Jim Silva. I say potential because Jim is still wishy-washy about it. Sure he is sitting on top of $400,000 but the idea of running in a brutal primary then go through a general election doesn’t sit well with Jim. If anything, Jim wants to be drafted by the GOP establishment to run.
Jim may end up running after all, depending on the field.
Aside from these two Republicans, we have another one thinking about it – Long Pham. The former Orange County Board of Education member and nuclear engineer who spent $100,000 of his personal money on a failed assembly campaign is talking to people about a potential run for SD 34. Long have loyal followers in the Vietnamese community. He just need to hire a better campaign consultant if he is to make another run at public office.
The front runner on the Democratic side is Jose Solorio, a trustee of the Rancho Santiago Community College District. As a government consultant, Jose will have plenty of time and flexibility to campaign in this district. I’m not sure how much money he is sitting on but financial resources should not be a problem if Jose is the only Democrat in the race. Money from Sacramento will just flow into this war chest.
Jose’s best bet is to make it into the general November election where more Democrats are likely to vote. Currently, I see a big problem for Jose – the person he is trying to succeed.
It is in Lou Correa’s interest to have Janet win the 34 SD in 2014 so that it will trigger a special election in 2015 for her supervisorial seat. Lou and his staff will work behind the scene to help Janet (they can’t do it publicly).
The other Democrat in this race is former Garden Grove planning commissioner Joe Dovinh. Joe likes to run. Does he have a chance of winning? Sure, if he can make it through the primary with a Republican opponent. It’s going to take a lot for Joe not to run and Janet knows it.
Later this week I will write about AD 65 and the likely Republican contender for this seat against incumbent Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva.