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Handicapping The Races: 55th Assembly District (June 2014)

Posted by Former Blogger Chris Emami on May 22, 2014

Here goes another handicapping post, I fear that Chris Nguyen is going to chase me with the axe from the Neel Kashkari mailer. I am going to give my take on the 55th Assembly District, which is Curt Hagman’s seat, which he cannot run for due to term limits.

Here are the candidates running for AD 55:

  • Gregg Fritchle (D) – Social Worker
  • Steve Tye (R) – Councilmember
  • Ling-Ling Chang (R) – City Councilwoman
  • Phillip Chen (R) – Small Business Owner

Voter registration heavily favors Republicans, with Republicans having 42% of registered voters in the 55th Assembly District compared to Democrats who hold just 31% of voter registration. This is an open primary that falls under the rules of Proposition 14, so regardless of percentages, the two candidates with the most votes will advance to the November election. The 55th Assembly District currently has the following cities within its boundaries:

  • LA COUNTY
    • Diamond Bar
    • Rowland Heights
    • Walnut
    • Industry (Portion)
    • West Covina (Portion)
  • ORANGE COUNTY
    • Brea
    • La Habra
    • Placentia
    • Yorba Linda
  • SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY
    • Chino Hills

Gregg Fritchle

Gregg Fritchle has run for this seat before and is the lone Democrat on the ballot this election. Let’s take a look at his electoral history.

Results from 2012 (Open Primary):

MEMBER OF THE STATE ASSEMBLY 55th District
Completed Precincts: 275 of 275
Vote Count Percentage
CURT HAGMAN 40,268 69.1%
GREGG D. FRITCHLE 17,994 30.9%

Results from 2010 (Democratic Primary):

MEMBER OF THE STATE ASSEMBLY 60th District – Democratic
Completed Precincts: 299 of 299
Vote Count Percentage
GREGG D. FRITCHLE (DEM) 14,498 100.0%

Fritchle has no chance to win in November and likely will not run a very comprehensive campaign being that he is a sacrificial lamb on the ballot. However, he is still the only Democrat in the race and with a solid backing in the last election among Democrats, Fritchle does not have any other candidates pulling from his base of voters.

With Fritchle not qualifying for electronic campaign finance filings, we can assume that he does not plan to get involved in the voter contact battle that will exist among the three Republicans in the race to advance to November.

Steve Tye

Steve Tye is sort of the curious candidate in this race. I do not really understand why he is running and he does not appear to be in a good position to advance to November and I will show you why.

I will give him this, he did finish ahead of Ling-Ling Chang in the past two Diamond Bar City Council Races, but I am not convinced that he is a contender based on his campaign being the weakest of the three Republicans. Let’s take a brief look at his electoral history.

Results from 2013 (LA County Election):

As of Date: 11/19/2013 Time: 13:58               Votes  Percent

DIAMOND BAR CY GEN MUNI      COUNCILMEMBER
VOTE FOR NO MORE THAN   3

STEVE TYE                                                  2,895    23.68
LING LING CHANG                                        2,765    22.61
NANCY A LYONS                                         2,578    21.08
RON EVERETT                                             1,956    16.00
JOSEPH KIM                                                1,232    10.08
MARTIN NAKAISHI                                           801     6.55

TOTAL PRECINCTS         18            PRECINCTS REPORTING        18   100.00
REGISTRATION        31,989

Results from 2009 (LA County Election):

As of Date: 11/20/2009 Time: 16:27               Votes  Percent

DIAMOND BAR CITY GEN MUNI    COUNCILMEMBER
VOTE FOR NO MORE THAN   3

STEVE TYE                                                  3,472    24.04
RON EVERETT                                             2,945    20.39
LING-LING CHANG                                        2,727    18.88
ROBERT L VELAZQUEZ                                1,520    10.53
DAVID T LIU                                                  1,453    10.06
LUCY HUANG                                               1,311     9.08
S DHAND                                                      1,013     7.01

TOTAL PRECINCTS         17            PRECINCTS REPORTING        17   100.00
REGISTRATION        29,877

As you can see from the election results, Tye does extremely well in races that take place in odd years in Diamond Bar. This election, though, is the big leagues, and he is going to need a much stronger effort to win a seat in the State Assembly.

As of the last reporting period, Tye has over $123,000 cash on hand although this does include a $100,000 loan from himself. I have not heard about any mailers going out from his campaign but will admit that I was impressed to hear that he does have a pretty substantial precinct operation that his campaign is running. I question whether or not he can raise enough money to fight the powers of Ling-Ling Chang and Phillip Chen who have dominated the mailboxes up until this point.

Tye will likely pull some votes away from Ling-Ling Chang by virtue of his name ID in Diamond Bar. However, I anticipate that he will pull more votes away from Phillip Chen due to the fact that the male voters will be split between three candidates.

Ling-Ling Chang

Ling-Ling Chang is the other Councilmember from Diamond Bar that is running in this race. She is the only female candidate on the ballot and has got a lot of money in her campaign war chest as of the last reporting period.

Ling-Ling Chang snuck onto the City Council in 2009 but showed a great deal of improvement in 2013. Let’s take a brief look at her electoral history.

Results from 2013 (LA County Election):

As of Date: 11/19/2013 Time: 13:58               Votes  Percent

DIAMOND BAR CY GEN MUNI      COUNCILMEMBER
VOTE FOR NO MORE THAN   3

STEVE TYE                                                  2,895    23.68
LING LING CHANG                                        2,765    22.61
NANCY A LYONS                                         2,578    21.08
RON EVERETT                                             1,956    16.00
JOSEPH KIM                                                1,232    10.08
MARTIN NAKAISHI                                          801      6.55

TOTAL PRECINCTS         18            PRECINCTS REPORTING        18   100.00
REGISTRATION        31,989

Results from 2009 (LA County Election):

As of Date: 11/20/2009 Time: 16:27               Votes  Percent

DIAMOND BAR CITY GEN MUNI    COUNCILMEMBER
VOTE FOR NO MORE THAN   3

STEVE TYE                                                  3,472    24.04
RON EVERETT                                             2,945    20.39
LING-LING CHANG                                        2,727    18.88
ROBERT L VELAZQUEZ                                1,520    10.53
DAVID T LIU                                                  1,453    10.06
LUCY HUANG                                               1,311      9.08
S DHAND                                                      1,013     7.01

TOTAL PRECINCTS         17            PRECINCTS REPORTING        17   100.00
REGISTRATION        29,877

As you can see from the election results, Chang closed the gap between herself and Tye in the 2013 race. I expect her to finish substantially ahead of Tye in the areas outside of Diamond Bar. Impressively, Chang has over $325,000 cash on hand as of the last reporting period, although this also includes a $100,000 personal loan.

Chang not only has the most direct mail going out to voters but she also appears to have the best ground game from what I have heard from my sources in the 55th Assembly District. She is definitely putting in the work needed to come out a winner in this race.

At this point, it is her race to lose.

Phillip Chen

Phillip Chen is fighting with Ling-Ling Chang for the top slot in this election. Chen is a member of the Walnut Valley Unified School District and is also a staffer for LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich. I am not impressed with his usage of the ballot designation Small Business Owner.

Let’s take a look at his electoral history.

Results from 2011 (LA County Election):

As of Date: 11/18/2011 Time: 14:05                Votes  Percent

WALNUT VALLEY UNIF SCH       GOVERNING BOARD MEMBER
VOTE FOR NO MORE THAN   2

PHILLIP CHEN                                     3,121    42.65
LARRY L REDINGER                            2,649    36.20
BEN YIP                                              1,548    21.15

TOTAL PRECINCTS         22            PRECINCTS REPORTING        22   100.00
REGISTRATION        31,204

Chen does not have as much name ID as Steve Tye or Ling-Ling Chang, but he does appear to have the most money with over $450,000 cash on hand, although as with the other two Republicans he has also loaned himself the magic $100,000. It appears that he has dominated slate mailers up until this point, but I have not been very impressed with the direct mail that he has put out or the TV commercial that he has put up on cable.

With his fundraising lead in place, I will give Chen credit, because I have heard that he is also running a strong ground game operation. The problems he face are that he has weaker name ID than both of his Republican opponents, and he did not use his elected title as his ballot designation (which would link him to his name ID). Chen just does not stand out from the crowd in my opinion, and I believe that it will be tough for him to overtake Ling-Ling Chang


Prediction Time

Based on all of the above factors and analysis, I predict that the candidates who advance to November will be

Ling-Ling Chang (R) and Gregg Fritchle (D)

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