Shawn Nelson Launches Bid for Superior Court Judge
Posted by Chris Nguyen on February 9, 2016
Yesterday, Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson (R-Fullerton) filed the initial candidacy papers and paid the filing fee to run for Superior Court Judge Office Number 40, held by the retiring Steve Perk (R-Rancho Santa Margarita). Orange County attorneys’ union head Larry Yellin (D-Mission Viejo) had filed the initial candidacy papers and paid the filing fee for the same seat last week. Litigation Attorney Fred Fascenelli (R-Villa Park) has also pulled papers for both this judicial seat and Superior Court Judge Office Number 3.
For years, Nelson had been rumored to be interested in a judgeship. In May 2015, he confirmed his intent to seek a judgeship in an interview with the Voice of OC.
The mystery had been when Nelson would run, with speculation running the gamut, including a 2018 bid for judge, an appointment by the Governor, or being one of the replacement candidates if the recall effort against Judge M. Marc Kelly had qualified.
Nelson has $162,832 remaining in his Supervisorial account, all of which could be transferred into an account for judge. A Senior Deputy District Attorney, Yellin just opened his account for judge last month. However, the union he heads, the Orange County Attorneys Association, has $262,132 in its campaign accounts, though certainly, OCAA is not going to spend the majority of its treasury on a single judicial race when it’s top priority in spending will be County races.
Besides OCAA, Yellin is also endorsed by the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA), which is the County’s largest union, and the Association of Orange County Deputy District Attorneys (AOCDDA), which is the County prosecutors’ union. AOCDDA has a modest $20,843 in its coffers. OCEA has $312,372, but certainly has other priorities, particularly since Yellin is not a member of OCEA. It’s entirely possible the unions largely stay out of the race under the argument that they’d rather have Nelson off the Board of Supervisors.
If Fascenelli decides to file in for judicial Office Number 3 instead of judicial Office Number 40, his opponents in that seat would be prosecutors Megan Wagner (R-Irvine) and Scott Zidbeck (R-Laguna Niguel). Fascenelli is married to Villa Park Councilwoman Diana Fascenelli while Wagner is married to Assemblyman Don Wagner.
Fred Fascenelli came in fourth in a bid for judge in 2014, winning 6.1% of the vote, coming in behind Assistant District Attorney Kevin Haskins (49.1%), Deputy Attorney General KC Jones (33.4%), and Attorney Thomas E. Martin (11.4%). Haskins (R-Laguna Niguel) and Jones (D-Orange) advanced to a November run-off, which Haskins won with 57.9% of the vote. This year, Martin (R-Rancho Santa Margarita) has pulled papers for judicial Office Number 49 to run against Senior Deputy District Attorney Mike Murray (R-Tustin) for the seat being held by Elaine Streger (R-Mission Viejo).
If Nelson were to defeat Yellin (and assuming Fascenelli or another third candidate doesn’t cause a run-off), the special election to fill the remaining two years of Nelson’s term representing the Fourth Supervisorial District could be either consolidated with the November 2016 general election or be a standalone special election in late February 2017 or early March 2017, depending on the timing of Nelson’s exit from the Board.
There are no campaign contribution limits for judge.