OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Vote for me, because I am one of you

Posted by Brenda Higgins on February 18, 2014

Last night the OCGOP Central Committee held it’s monthly meeting and on the agenda were some requests for early endorsements in upcoming partisan races.  There has been some confusion over recent changes in the bylaws and how the timing, request and filing requirements of endorsements will be affected, but that is not the topic here.  (Frankly, I’m a pretty smart person, and I am still struggling to understand the amendments and why we made them)  Here, I want to discuss the future future of the party in California in a post Prop 14 world.

The only endorsement that garnered any discussion is the one sought by Diane Harkey for the California State Board of Equalization.  There were unanimous endorsements for Shari Freidenrich and Tony Rackaukas.  I don’t believe that Shari is challenged and given the circumstances surrounding prior challenges, it’s not likely that TRack will see any challengers until he is blind and walking with a cane and willing to step down, none of which seem to be in his future.

Diane Harkey has announced her candidacy for the State Board of Equalization. In that race also, are Republicans Van Tran and Mark Wyland.  As a matter of procedure (which was not at any time clear what exactly the procedure should have been) the candidates were allowed to speak.  It was fairly impromptu, and did become something of a debate, although the Chairman continued to remind us that this was not a debate.  The end of the story is that the Committee voted by a narrow, (3 votes) to endorse Diane Harkey at this early stage, per her request.  She was immensely grateful, and indicated it was going to make it so much easier for her to raise money and obtain support.

Although I am not well acquainted with any of these candidates,  I did receive a phone call quite some time ago from Diane requesting my support.  I have also had contact from her campaign requesting the same, so kudos to her for hitting the ground running.  I have seen her at every Central Committee meeting in recent months, pressing the flesh, making her presence and ambitions known. She certainly has gotten out early and often, doing the work.  However, I am not certain that an “A” for effort necessarily entitles a candidate to essentially eviscerate opportunities for the other Republicans before the campaign has even started.

To clarify, since Prop 14 we have ‘open’ primaries in California.  Any number of candidates from any party may enter a race.  In this race, we will have at least 3 Republicans and 1 Democrat in what has been described to as a ‘safe’ Republican seat.  In the last election we saw the first glimpse of what is to come of this in the form of Republican on Republican fundraising and rhetorical violence.  How we will deal with it continues to be of concern and debate amongst our ranks.

The best idea of the evening was in the form of a motion made by Deborah Pauly to “table” this discussion until the filing had closed for this office, i.e. postpone this discussion and endorsement until after the ‘official’ filing deadline with the Registrar of Voters has passed, because in theory, someone could walk in there today and decide to be a candidate for this office.  In the morass of procedural clarifications throughout the meeting, that motion somehow got lost, which was disappointing.  The vote on the endorsement and the debate from the members proceeded nevertheless, the endorsement was granted, without any significant consideration of the implications and seriousness of the problems this new post Prop 14 lay of the land provides for the party.

The lack of strategy and agenda for addressing this problem having been noted, here is what has and is developing from this new early endorsement approach.  A veritable game of “gotcha” seems to be arising, in that if a candidate gets there early, and another worthy candidate is in the wings, unaware of the procedure for an endorsement, if and when the political insider, the one who knows the ropes, the one who has been in an office and aware of these procedures, gets there first, he or she will be the one who will get the endorsement.  Will this stop the blood bath of Republican on Republican campaigning in the early races?  That remains to be seen, but it seems it could really exacerbate it.

Now with the OC giving the nod to Harkey, it is likely that San Diego will give the nod to it’s hometown hero, Wyland.  A comment was made last night that VanTran has “no chance” and should bow out now, which of all the incredible and offensive things I heard last night, that was certainly one of them.  It was only a few years ago that Van Tran was the great party hope to unseat Loretta Sanchez. Now he is disregarded like road kill, ‘nothing to see here folks, move along’.  Wow.

The veritable stepping over Van Tran, is magnified though when viewed in light of the discussion that occurred.  Strangely, in the lengthy questioning of the candidates, not only were there no questions related to the actual duties of the position, there was no discussion of the agenda that either candidate would bring to the office.  What there was, were a number of questions that could be easily rephrased as “How Republican are you?”  We heard quite a lot from Harkey about how involved she has been in the party, how she is highly rated in her State Assembly performance by conservative groups, and all the conservative principles she has fought for in the State Assembly.  Nothing other than she really wants “this” (new) job, to explain to us what exactly she will do at the Board of Equalization.

It should be noted that Wyland, even though he was invited to engage in the discussion, did NOT seek the party endorsement.

In addition to being light on substance related to the actual office, (again, these candidates were not noticed that they would be speaking) Harkey was over all, shrill in her presentation. She was a tad histrionic, condescending and rude at times.  I did not care for the eye rolling at some of the comments from Wyland, and her body language, including but not limited to the manner in which she snatched the microphone from Mr. Wyland.

I have said before, this is a tough room.  Politicos of every ilk, well versed in the issues and public figures who in their own varied roles, must verbally address the public on a regular basis.  If you are coming here, you should be prepared to bring your A-game.  Ms. Harkey, as she pointed out, has a long career of public service and has run many a successful campaign. She as much as anyone, should not take any of this for granted.  The impression she gave last night is that she does.  She was indignant that Wyland was there, or in the race or really toward almost anything he had to say. He is also an elected official, coincidentally, higher ranking than Ms. Harkey. Regardless, her disrespect was uncalled for.  Her anticipation of the automatic nature of the endorsement of this important body, also uncalled for.  I would have been far more impressed had she been dignified, respectful and acquiescing to the right of her opponent to be heard.

I am disappointed that the Committee took this action when there were other options, to simply not endorse, or table it for a short, or even indefinite time.  I am disappointed at the narrow margin by which this important endorsement was gained.  I would have voted for the motion to table this to the next meeting or anytime AFTER the filing deadline had passed so that we could be certain exactly WHO will be in this race, but that’s not the way it went.  I fear now, that this will be a fundraising and propaganda blood bath, in what could have and should have been a quiet race for a “safe” seat.  Ms. Harkey indicated that this early endorsement will avoid exactly that which I and others fear, in that SHE will have an easier time raising money and obtaining important support.  I’m not the campaigning pro that she is, and I seriously hope she is right, it just doesn’t make any logical sense to me.

A letter I received from Mark Wyland dated February 13, 2014, stated, “My view has always been that the best role for the party is to stay out of Republican on Republican races, and to help unify everyone after the June vote.  ……With that in mind, I would ask the Orange County Republican Party not pick favorites between three Republicans.  Speaking for myself, I can’t think of anything I have done over the years to deserve having my party endorse against me.  …. I do not request my party’s endorsement and would deeply appreciate it if my party would not endorse against me.”

In this post Prop 14 world, I keep having this recurring thought, it is a good thing we Republicans are so pro-gun because we need to keep re-loading to shoot ourselves repeatedly in the foot.

4 Responses to “Vote for me, because I am one of you”

  1. met00 said

    Okay, I’m on the blue team and nothing makes me happier than a little red-on-red bloodbath, but when someone gets it right, well I have to call them right. Brenda, you nailed it.

    While you didn’t mention names, I will. Troy Edgar and Travis Allen. In the Primary Troy had all but locked up every possible endorsement you could get from every possible Republican in OC and nearby. Troy didn’t walk into the race, he strut. And then the impossible happened. The General came around and it was a red-on-red worst case scenario.

    There was Troy with all the endorsements, and there was Travis with a hand full of nothing. It wasn’t as if Travis didn’t have his “conservative credentials”. As a blue I disagree with Travis on a number of issues, including his abject refusal to even discuss closing the Prop 13 loopholes (which would cost him the support of the HJTPA). But Travis understood that politics is NOT about how well you can stand on your rock and refuse to move, but in how well you can work with the other side to move forward your agenda. In expressing that understanding Travis was able to do something that has to be done in this world where red-on-red is a possibility. He woo’d the blue. Not be giving up his conservative principles (like I said, I can’t even get him to discuss closing the Prop 13 loopholes), but on looking at where he and the Blue team actually had lot’s of agreement. Then he talked about those things.

    Travis won, not because he had the endorsements of the Red Team. He didn’t have the most Red Team endorsements. Travis won because he was willing to talk and explore where he and the Blue Team actually agreed on the direction of the government. And as a member of the Blue Team, while I don’t agree with everything Travis has done since he has been elected, I can tell you that he has accomplished more in a Blue Assembly than was ever expected of him as a Red Team player. He has done so, not because he caved in on his conservative principles, but because he knew that he had to find those places where there was agreement and he could push the Blue a little to the right so that he was able to influence what was going on.

    In this post Prop 14 world, the rule is going to be that the person who is most willing to work with the other side is the person that will win the General. In other words, rather than seeking to find people that are going to stand on their rock, we really need to find people that believe that effective government is not about being an immovable object, but is about being able to work across a party line to find middle ground where both sides feel that they won a little and they lost a little. The art of compromise rather than the art of confrontation.

    Edgar had all the endorsements.Allen was the better politician. The results showed in the final poll. I have no idea if Harkey is the better politician or not, but from what you described it sort of sounds like Edgar in a dress and Wyland is sounding a great deal like the next Travis Allen.

  2. OCInsider#33 said

    Brenda, the Orange County Republican Central Committee is so good at shooting their fellow Republicans in more extreme places then their feet, don’t look for this practice to end anytime soon. Most average registered republicans in Orange County have no idea who or what the Central Committee is and would be horrified to witness what goes on at their meetings.

  3. “Harkey was over all, shrill in her presentation. She was a tad histrionic, condescending and rude at times. I did not care for the eye rolling at some of the comments from Wyland, and her body language, including but not limited to the manner in which she snatched the microphone from Mr. Wyland.”

    I can just imagine, Brenda. And I also have to preface by admitting that I’m from the blue team. But Mr. Wyland is such a more decent man. And I’m surprised from your reporting, that none of THIS apparently came up – Diane and her husband’s ripping off of numerous elderly investors and then declaring bankruptcy after being ordered to pay them back? This is really unconscionable – it didn’t even come up? Please at least check out my report from December:


  4. I saw Mrs. Harkey in the Santa Ana courtoom when I was suing her husband for Financial Elder Abuse. I won. She seems like a nice lady. I wish her the best since her husband has declared bankruptcy rather than pay me my $150K.

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