Yesterday, former Santa Ana City Council candidate Karina Onofre announced that she is running for the 74th Assembly District which is currently held by Allan Mansoor. Mansoor announced last week that he will not be seeking a third term, instead opting to battle Michelle Steel for the 2nd Supervisorial District, held by the termed out John Moorlach. This announcement by Onofre caught me completely off guard as I had not even heard any rumors about this. When I told Chris Nguyen about this, his reaction was, “WHAT?!?!?!” (On a related note, does anyone know how to replace a burst iPhone speaker?)
Running a race in AD-74 also presents totally different demographics and challenges than running a race for Santa Ana City Council. AD-74 consists of Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, and Newport Beach. In Santa Ana, Republicans are at a distinct disadvantage in voter registration, thus making it less likely to draw a crowd of Republicans who will fight for a seat. Two Republicans who have been able to overpower the Democratic stranglehold on elected offices are Orange County Board of Education Trustee Robert Hammond and Santa Ana Unified School District Trustee Cecilia Iglesias. (In the interest of full disclosure, Custom Campaigns served as the sole campaign consultants to both of these candidates. Custom Campaigns is also the firm that owns OC Political.)
In AD-74, Republicans have a 12.6% registration advantage, which will lead to a rather bloody primary fight if last election is any indicator. In the 2012 Primary Election, Leslie Daigle (and the PACs supporting her) spent gobs of cash to fight incumbent Allan Mansoor by bloodying him up with lots of negative mail and negative television ads. Mansoor not only made it to the run-off in November, but he easily came in first place, and Daigle finished a distant third place:
|MEMBER OF THE STATE ASSEMBLY 74th District|
|Completed Precincts: 392 of 392|
|ALLAN R. MANSOOR||33,319||43.5%|
These results would not be surprising if it weren’t for the fact that Charles Munger Jr. spent almost $500,000 on Daigle’s behalf to try to get her to the November run-off. Even Bob Rush, who was a Dem sacrificial lamb in this race, spent almost $100,000. These numbers are stunning in that this much was spent trying to beat an incumbent and not for an open seat. Generally, candidates will spend more money trying to win an open seat as opposed to trying to unseat an incumbent (since incumbency is so tough to overcome).
While we are still looking at 2012, Onofre had a rough time against Roman Reyna last election in the Santa Ana City Council Ward 5 race:
|CITY OF SANTA ANA Member, City Council, Ward 5|
|Completed Precincts: 108 of 108|
|ROMAN A. REYNA||32,419||61.8%|
I’m going to be very honest: Onofre only raised $3,250 in her race for Santa Ana City Council, and this was for an open seat! AD-74 already has a field of strong candidates with the ability to raise money. Onofre has no name identification in AD-74, has no fundraising base, and will face allegations of being a carpetbagger.
Huntington Beach Councilman Matt Harper, AD-72 staffer Emanuel Patrascu, and former CRP Treasurer Keith Carlson have already expressed an interest in this race. Harper is the early front-runner in this race since Huntington Beach is the second-most populated city in AD-74 (Irvine is the most populated, but no current candidate is based out of Irvine). Patrascu is not very well-known in AD-74 and hails from Laguna Beach (only about 6% of the population in AD-74), but he does work for Travis Allen and might get some decent help from his boss, who would want to get an ally elected to the Assembly. Carlson will likely have a ton of establishment support and will be able to raise quite a bit of money through his connections as former CRP Treasurer.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the real wildcard here is Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach. He is set to announce his candidacy for the 45th Congressional District at some point very soon. If for whatever reason, Moorlach decides that CD-45 is not the right fit (I actually think that he can win), he could easily destroy anyone in the field in AD-74 (assuming he doesn’t just clear the field outright) and walk into the Assembly.