OC Political

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

Total Chaos: Harkey & Chavez Running for CD-49; Nelson, Kim, & Huff Running for CD-39; Who’s Running for BOE & AD-76?

Posted by Chris Nguyen on January 11, 2018

The unexpected announcements in a three-day period by Congressmen Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and Darrell Issa (R-Vista) that they would not be running for re-election in two of the most hotly-contested Congressional seats in the country set off a game of musical chairs that has unleashed total chaos in the Southern California political world, particularly in Orange County and even in Los Angeles and San Diego Counties.

The Fast and the Furious

In a three-day span, two Congressional races, a Board of Equalization race, an Assembly race, and a supervisorial race were turned upside down.  Former and current elected officials have been switching campaigns faster than the speed of street racers living a quarter-mile at a time.

On Monday, Royce announced he would not be running for re-election in the 39th Congressional District.  The next evening, former Assemblywoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton) entered the CD-39 race the with Royce’s endorsement and dropped out of the race to succeed Fourth District Supervisor Shawn Nelson (R-Fullerton).  Less than 3 hours later, Nelson entered the race for CD-39, abandoning plans to wait for an open judicial seat.  Within 20 minutes of Nelson’s entry, former State Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) entered the CD-39 race.

On Wednesday, Issa announced he would not be running for re-election in the 49th Congressional District.  Two hours later, Board of Equalization Chairwoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) entered the CD-49 race with the endorsements of both Issa and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), ending her re-election bid for the State Board of Equalization.  Four hours after Harkey’s entry, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside) entered the CD-49 race, ending his re-election bid for the 76th Assembly District.  Inexplicably, both the San Diego Union-Tribune and Los Angeles Times reported that Chavez was the first to enter the race despite Harkey announcing first.

The rapid Royce and Issa retirements set off so many rumors that Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Ken Calvert (R-Corona) both felt compelled to issue statements yesterday confirming that they were continuing their re-election campaigns.  Calvert said, “I look forward to campaigning in 2018 to represent the 42nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives…” (full statement here). Rohrabacher said, “I am unequivocally running for re-election and confident that my views reflect the values and the needs of my constituents here in Orange County…” (full statement here).

The Hunger Games

Kim’s entry into the CD-39 race shook up the 4th Supervisorial District race to succeed Nelson, for she was the candidate with the highest name ID and largest warchest.  Harkey’s entry into the CD-49 race has now created a race for BOE that otherwise would have been a near-certain re-election for her.  Similarly, Chavez’s entry into CD-49 race has now created a race for AD-76 that otherwise would have been a probable re-election for him.

In all of this, it cannot be forgotten: CD-39 and CD-49 are both key swing seats that could help determine party control of the United States House of Representatives.  With that in mind, since the Democratic fields for both districts has stayed steady, we’re focusing on the completely-transformed Republican fields for both districts.

A picture (or flow chart) is worth 1,000 words for the first few days of our local version of The Hunger Games.  There can only be one victor in each seat, as various elected officials hope the odds are ever in their favor:

CD-39/CD-49 Flow Chart

49th Congressional District

I promise: no more gratuitous movie references in this blog post.  In the 49th Congressional District race to succeed Issa:

Board of Equalization Chairwoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) represents all of CD-49, as her massive BOE district includes the entirety of Orange, San Diego, Imperial, and Riverside Counties, as well as portions of San Bernardino County.  She won one election to the Dana Point City Council and then three elections to the State Assembly representing portions of South Orange County and North San Diego County.   Harkey raised $600,000 for her BOE campaign.  She raised $259,000 for her 2012 Assembly re-election, $189,000 in 2010, and $299,000 in 2008.

Assemblyman Rocky Chavez represents 63% of CD-49 voters.  Of the 387,000 registered voters in CD-49, Chavez represents the 244,000 who reside in the AD-76 overlap with CD-49.  He won two elections to the Oceanside City Council and then three elections to the State Assembly representing North San Diego County.  In the most recent election in 2016, he made an awkward bid for US Senate, in which he dropped out live on air on KOGO-AM in the opening minutes of a Republican Senate debate.  He had raised $117,000 for his US Senate campaign.  Chavez raised $198,000 for his 2016 Assembly re-election, $256,000 in 2014, and $258,000 in 2012.

There are currently four Democrats running for CD-49, none of whom hold elected office, and three of whom have raised over $500,000 (and the fourth entered after the last campaign finance reporting period).  If no other Republican enters, and none of the Democrats drop out, it is entirely possible a CD-31 2012 scenario could play out, and we could see Harkey vs. Chavez in the November general election.  (CD-31 was a highly competitive swing seat in 2012, but Congressman Gary Miller and State Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton faced off in the general election because four Democrats split the vote, allowing Miller and Dutton to slip into the top two spots.)

39th Congressional District

Here are excerpts of OC Political’s analysis from Tuesday in relation to Nelson, Huff, and Kim before their entries into the 39th Congressional District race to succeed Royce:

Supervisor Shawn Nelson represents 45% of the voters of the 39th Congressional District.  Of the 367,000 registered voters in CD-39, Nelson represents 166,000 of them, who reside in the 4th Supervisorial District’s overlap with CD-39.  Nelson has deep roots in the district, having grown up in Fullerton, graduated from high school there, and even graduating from law school there.  He’s also a member of countless civic organizations in CD-39.  Nelson won three elections to the Fullerton City Council and two to the Orange County Board of Supervisors (and raised the necessary money to wage those campaigns).  As it happens, he is termed out from the Board in 2018.

Former State Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff represented 71% of CD-39 voters, with 262,000 of the 367,000 CD-39 voters residing in SD-29, which Huff termed out of in 2016.  Huff won three elections to the Diamond Bar City Council, two to the State Assembly, and two to the State Senate.  Diamond Bar is the largest LA County city in CD-39.  Though he lost his bid for the LA County Board of Supervisors, there are less than 200 voters who are in the overlap between CD-39 and that supervisorial district.  As a former Senate Republican Leader, he’s certainly capable of raising funds for this seat.

Former Assemblywoman Young Kim represented 35% of CD-39 voters, with 95,000 of the 367,000 CD-39 voters residing in AD-65.  However, Kim also holds the unique distinction of having worked for Royce for nearly 20 years before her election to the Assembly.  She had been his Director of Community Relations and Asian Affairs.  In 2014, Kim defeated Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva’s re-election bid, but in 2016, Quirk-Silva avenged herself by defeating Kim’s re-election bid.  Kim is certainly familiar with what a swing seat campaign entails, with her sheer number of volunteers and staff.  She raised $2 million in each of her two Assembly campaigns.  Kim is currently in the midst of her bid to replace the termed out Nelson to represent the Fourth District on the Board of Supervisors.  If Kim switched to the Congressional race, it would leave La Habra Mayor Tim Shaw the sole Republican candidate facing off against Democrat Joe Kerr, a former long-time firefighters’ union president, for Supervisor (other Democrats running for the seat would presumably be eliminated by the voters in the June primary).

At the moment, there are six Democrats and two independents (though a seventh Democrat is reportedly looking at the seat).  Five of the Democrats have raised over $100,000 (one has hit $400,000), and four of them have self-funded in amounts ranging from $111,000-$2,000,000.  A CD-31 2012 scenario is tougher here than in CD-49 (though not out of the question) with three Republicans, six or seven Democrats, and two independents.  However, if one of the three Republicans drops out, a CD-31 2012 scenario becomes much more likely with that large Democratic Party field.

Board of Equalization

Lost in the Congressional races has been the fact that the Board of Equalization race is now wide open since Harkey will be running for CD-49 rather than seeking re-election.

Former Councilman John F. Kelly (R-Tustin) had pulled papers to run against Harkey.  He won only 11% of the vote when he ran against her in 2014.  A former long-time tobacco shop owner, Kelly does have an odd boost in name ID now, thanks to White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly.  Former Tobacco Shop Owner Kelly served one term on the Tustin City Council from 1986-1990, having been elected to office at the age of 24 and defeated for re-election at the age of 28.  He also made an ill-fated bid for Congress in 1988 for the seat eventually won by Chris Cox (who was succeeded by John Campbell who was succeeded by Mimi Walters).  No word on if Kelly will continue his campaign, now that Harkey is out.

Sources have stated that Orange County Water District Board Member Denis Bilodeau (R-Orange) is examining whether he will enter the BOE race since Harkey switched to CD-49.  Bilodeau won two elections to the Orange City Council, serving from 2006 to 2014, when he termed out.  He also won five elections to represent Orange, Villa Park, and portions of Tustin on the water board.  Bilodeau is also Shawn Nelson’s Chief of Staff at the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

76th Assembly District

Oceanside Councilman Jerry Kern was running for AD-76 in 2016 until withdrawing when Chavez dropped out of the US Senate race.  Kern is currently running for San Diego County Supervisor in the Fifth District but sources indicate he is preparing to switch back to AD-76 in 2018 since Chavez is now running for CD-49.  Kern had raised $184,000 for AD-76 in 2016 until Chavez’s return forced Kern out of the race.

Strangely, no Democrat has ever run for AD-76 since the implementation of the top two primary.  Chavez has only run against other Republicans for Assembly.

3 Responses to “Total Chaos: Harkey & Chavez Running for CD-49; Nelson, Kim, & Huff Running for CD-39; Who’s Running for BOE & AD-76?”

  1. Oh, hey, you’re back! Let us know how to turn on your RSS feed, if you’ll still have one; we’ve saved space for you in our right hand column.

    (P.S. How updated is the Electeds Database?)

  2. Protecting taxpayers over 25 years! Elect experience & ethical daviddodsonforboe.com.

  3. […] written about the possibility of a Republican vs. Republican general election in CD-39 and CD-49, but Baugh’s entry now makes this a legitimate possibility in CD-48.  Democrats are […]

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