OC Political

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

Almost Live from OC GOP Endorsements Committee, Round 2 for November 2018

Posted by Chris Nguyen on July 19, 2018

So your intrepid blogger’s phone battery was running low making live blogging impossible; however, I did have have my laptop, so consider this the live-blog equivalent of a tape-delayed broadcast.

Endorsements Committee members in person are Chair Peggy Huang and Members Mark Bucher, Tyler Diep, and Leroy Mills. Endorsements Committee members on the phone are Laurie Davies and Erik Weigand. Endorsements Committee Member Gene Hernandez is absent.

The Endorsements Committee’s recommendations tonight, like those of the July 12 meeting, will be considered by the full Central Committee on July 30.

Endorsements Committee Chair Peggy Huang calls the meeting to order at 5:30 PM.

Anthony Kuo for Irvine City Council

Anthony Kuo started his activism in 1999, writing an article in the high school paper opposing a proposal by Larry Agran, and Agran threatened to sue. He’s a long-time volunteer for the party. He was worked in public policy. He was the top runner-up in the 2016 Council race. Irvine is his hometown.

Tyler Diep moves and Mark Bucher seconds recommending Anthony Kuo for Irvine City Council to the Central Committee.

ANTHONY KUO FOR IRVINE CITY COUNCIL RECOMMENDED 6-0 TO THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Trevor O’Neil for Anaheim City Council, District 6

Trevor O’Neil has lived in Anaheim Hills for 23 years with his wife and children. He is a small business owner who fought regulatory and legislative efforts against his industry, homecare service providers. He is endorsed by Anaheim Hills’s representatives, Mimi Walters and Steven Choi. He’s endorsed by Fred Whitaker. He’s been a Republican since he was 18. He’s been an active volunteer for Republican voter registration efforts, and he’s phone banked and precinct walked for Andrew Do, Janet Nguyen, Young Kim, Ling-Ling Chang, Ed Royce, and Mimi Walters.

Another Republican candidate for the seat, Patty Gaby, has not submitted an application but is present.

Central Committee Member TJ Fuentes urges neutrality. He says O’Neil is a nice guy, a likable guy, who has helped the Republican Party. Fuentes argues that O’Neil disagrees with the party on hotel subsidies because that allows government to pick winners and losers. Fuentes says a bigger problem is that there are two Republican candidates in an open seat. Fuentes says Patty Gaby is a lifelong Republican and is endorsed by Mayor Tom Tait. Fuentes argues that candidate fundraising is irrelevant because millions of dollars have been spent in the City of Anaheim in independent expenditures.

O’Neil says government should not pick winners and losers. He says the TOT rebate was open to all comers. He says it is analogous to the sales tax rebate for car dealerships in Orange. He says if there is a net positive impact on the City budget, that’s more money that can be spent on police, fire, parks, and other City services. He says he does not belong to either faction and entered the race on his own with no one recruiting him. O’Neil says Kris Murray endorsed another candidate who has since dropped out. He wants to get past the personal politics of Anaheim. His fundraising doesn’t come from the Anaheim factions; it comes heavily from friends and businesspeople in the homecare industry.

Endorsements Committee Chair Peggy Huang asks if Kris Murray has endorsed him.

O’Neil says she has not endorsed anyone since her candidate dropped out.

Endorsements Committee Member Leroy Mills comments on the Anaheim Stadium $1 parking lease and the Disney tax exemption. He then asks about “hard right social views” in Central Committee.

O’Neil wants government to focus on infrastructure, the economy, and jobs, which affect day-to-day lives rather than social issues. He supports public-private partnerships. He feels items like the TOT incentive are only necessary in poor economic times and not necessary in good economic times.

Endorsements Committee Member Tyler Diep asks if O’Neil has raised any of his $85,000 in campaign funds from loans.

O’Neil says he has raised $25,000 in personal loans. He has accepted no money from unions. Unions caused him to get involved in the political arena because of what they’ve done to his industry.

Diep asks if O’Neil has raised any money from Disney and its allies.

O’Neil says he has accepted money from them.

Endorsements Committee Member Mark Bucher asks if there’s any reason why the party should endorse O’Neil over Gaby.

O’Neil raises Gaby’s union activities. He says he has battled unions, owns his own small business, and is not beholden to unions.

Endorsements Committee Member Laurie Davies asked if O’Neil has received any money from lobbyists.

O’Neil says he received contributions from a lobbying firm who advocates for the homecare industry in Sacramento and which does not lobby in Anaheim.

Davies wants to leave this race open.

Weigand agrees with Davies.

Huang says she was aware of the candidate endorsed by Kris Murray but not the candidate endorsed by Tom Tait. She urges neutrality. She does not want to be involved in the divisive politics of Anaheim.

Huang moves and Mills seconds to recommend “no endorsement” in Anaheim City Council, District 6.

Weigand urges that the neutrality recommendation not slight O’Neil.

O’Neil states he has gone through the process, and other candidates in other seats have been recommended for endorsements while it is still currently possible for other Republicans to pull papers.

Huang stresses that it is an open seat. She says it is divisive to pick one over another. She says it has been the Endorsements Committee’s policy for years to not endorse one Republican over another in an open seat with no incumbent.

Diep suggests the committee should not have recommended Anthony Kuo in Irvine under the standard being applied to O’Neil in Anaheim because Kuo is also running for an open seat, and other Republicans may pull papers. Diep notes the recommendation was based on Kuo’s activism and history with the OC GOP. He asks whether O’Neil’s opponent can even get to the 21 signatures necessary to be considered for an endorsement. He suggests tabling O’Neil to another Endorsements Committee meeting to study the two candidates side-by-side if Gaby makes the 21 signatures.

Huang argues Gaby is present while none of Kuo’s opponents are present. She notes that Kuo was also endorsed by the Central Committee two years ago.

THE COMMITTEE VOTES 6-0 FOR NO RECOMMENDATION IN ANAHEIM CITY COUNCIL, DISTRICT 6.

(Editor’s Note: Since OC Political live blogs most of these meetings, we can look back at the times the Endorsements Committee recommended one Republican over another in open seats with no incumbents:

  • September 16, 2016: Evan Chaffee recommended for Municipal Water District of Orange County, Division 6 as one of two Republicans running for one seat
  • August 30, 2016: Andy Hall recommended for Yorba Linda Water District as one of four Republicans running for two seats (an incumbent is also recommended)
  • Weirdly, the Endorsements Committee voted to recommend all five Republicans running for three seats on the Huntington Beach City Council in 2016 over the course of three meetings:
    • September 16, 2016: Edward Pincheff recommended for Huntington Beach City Council as one of five Republicans running for three seats
    • August 30, 2016: Mark Rolfes recommended for Huntington Beach City Council as one of five Republicans running for three seats
    • August 24, 2016: Patrick Brenden, Joe Carchio, and Lyn Semeta recommended for Huntington Beach City Council as three of five Republicans running for three seats
  • August 24, 2016: Fred Ameri recommended for Newport Beach City Council, District 7 as one of three Republicans running for one seat
  • August 24, 2016: Janine Heft recommended for Laguna Hills City Council as one of three Republicans running for two seats
  • August 24, 2016: Larry Bennett recommended for Fullerton City Council as one of four Republicans running for three seats
  • October 7, 2014: Bill Green recommended for South Coast Water District as one of four Republicans running for two seats
  • October 7, 2014: Jon Peat recommended for Cypress City Council as one of five Republicans running for three seats
  • September 3, 2014: Ed Sachs and Wendy Bucknum recommended for Mission Viejo City Council as two of seven Republicans running for three seats (an incumbent is also recommended)
  • September 3, 2014: Kerry Ferguson recommended for San Juan Capistrano City Council as one of five Republicans running for three seats
  • September 3, 2014: John Tomlinson recommended for Dana Point City Council as one of seven Republicans running for three seats
  • September 3, 2014: Baron Night recommended for Buena Park City Council as one of five Republicans running for three seats
  • September 2, 2014: Andrew Hamilton recommended for Lake Forest City Council as one of six Republicans running for three seats
  • September 2, 2014: Elaine Gennawey and John Jennings recommended for Laguna Niguel City Council as two of three Republicans running for two seats
  • September 2, 2014: Kevin Muldoon recommended for Newport Beach City Council, District 4 as one of three Republicans running for one seat
  • September 2, 2014: Scott Peotter recommended for Newport Beach City Council, District 6 as one of two Republicans running for one seat
  • May 5, 2014: Robert Ming recommended for Orange County Supervisor, District 5 as one of four Republicans running for one seat
  • March 31, 2014: Eric Woolery recommended for Orange County Auditor-Controller as one of three Republicans running for one seat
  • March 31, 2014: Kevin Haskins recommended for Superior Court Judge, Office 14 as one of three Republicans running for one seat
  • There are also a number from 2012, but clearly the point has been made looking at just 2014 and 2016)

Diane Dixon for Newport Beach City Council, District 1

Diane Dixon is running for re-election and does not have any known opponents (she was unopposed in 2014). She wants to bring economic revitalization to the city. Her city is holding spending flat and is using its surpluses to pay down pension obligations to CalPERS. She serves on ACC-OC’s executive committee where they are working on pension reform efforts, including working with Senator John Moorlach.

Endorsements Committee Member Laurie Davies says she has worked with Dixon on ACC-OC’s pension reform committee and is strong on legislative issues.

Endorsements Committee Member Erik Weigand says he is Dixon’s appointee to the Newport Beach Planning Commission. He says she is active in the community and works hard on pension reform efforts, where Newport Beach is at the forefront.

Endorsements Committee Member Mark Bucher says a constituent asked whether Dixon was supporting Duffy Duffield, Scott Peotter, and Kevin Muldoon, who are endorsed by the OC GOP for other seats.

Dixon says she has donated money to Muldoon and is willing to endorse any of them if asked. She says she supports all the Republicans running for Newport Beach City Council.

Endorsements Committee Member Leroy Mills asked Dixon how she voted on Prop 68.

Dixon says she voted against it.

Endorsements Committee Chair Peggy Huang asks about the dynamics of the Newport Beach City Council.

Dixon explains they have process differences and not policy differences.

Davies moves and Weigand seconds recommending Dixon.

DIXON RECOMMENDED 6-0 FOR NEWPORT BEACH CITY COUNCIL

Jim Cunneen for Fountain Valley School District

Jim Cunneen is President of the Fountain Valley School District Board of Education. He is a Central Committee alternate and on the Board of the California Impact Republicans. On a $63 billion bond, Measure O, he says, “I caved” on letting it on to the ballot. He says he “scored low” on that. He voted against Measure O on the ballot. He vocally opposed the Measure HH sales tax. He pushed back on unions. He opposed all pay increases in excess of 3%, noting some districts went to 9%.

John W. Briscoe says he is not running for Congress (clarifying he is not John F. Briscoe since both John Briscoes are on the Central Committee now). He met Cunneen in the Fountain Valley CRA. At one point, there were no conservatives on the FVSD Board, but Cunneen is part of a conservative majority.

Endorsements Committee Member Tyler Diep asks whether Cunneen is open to charter schools.

Cunneen says he is.

Endorsements Committee Member Mark Bucher says Cunneen is an advocate of charter schools.

Bucher asks about his vote on the bond.

Cunneen reiterates that he voted to put it on the ballot.

Bucher says, “That was a fail.”

Endorsements Committee Member Erik Weigand asks if it is a forgivable fail.

Bucher says it is forgivable since Cunneen admitted regret and pledges not to do it again.

Endorsements Committee Member Leroy Mills asks about the philosophy of the break between salaries and facilities.

Cunneen considers them separate expenditures. He prefers students, not adults, get school money. He notes his district is the only one in OC with surplus property revenue (special fund 40).

Mills clarifies how the budget is divided between salaries and facilities.

Cunneen says it’s a 90%/10% split in FVSD. Cunneen says keeping raises low is important, pointing to a 1% increase in the last raise.

Endorsements Committee Chair Peggy Huang asks what kind of bond Measure O was.

Cunneen says it was a building modernization bond.

Huang asks if the surplus had been applied, could the bond have been avoided?

Cunneen says it likely could have been.

Huang asks about the funds being generated from the surplus.

Cunneen says special fund 40 is invested in the County investment pool.

Mills moves and Bucher seconds to recommend Cunneen for Fountain Valley School District.

THE VOTE IS 6-0 TO RECOMMEND CUNNEEN FOR FOUNTAIN VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT.

Joe Muller for Dana Point City Council

Joe Muller is Mayor Pro Tem of Dana Point and is serving his first term on the City Council. He says Dana Point relies on hotels and tourism. He is pleased to have developed the Dana Point Town Center. The Harbor revitalization project has been approved. The Doheny Beach project is next up. He is Vice Chair of the OCFA Board. They have balanced budgets and generated surpluses each year he has been there. Last year’s $35 million budget had a $7 million surplus. They are working on developing a pension trust to pay the city’s pension liability. He says OCFA has a pension pay-down plan. He says Dana Point has merit pools instead of automatic pay increases.

Endorsements Committee Member Erik Weigand says Muller is a leader in South County who has worked well with Senator Pat Bates and Assemblyman Bill Brough. Endorsements Committee Member Laurie Davies concurs.

Endorsements Committee Member Mark Bucher asks about removing the pro-life plank from the California Republican Party platform.

Muller is pro-life but feels the issue takes away the focus from core fiscal issues and is turning off Millennial voters who care about other issues. He thinks abortion should not be a focus.

Endorsements Committee Member Leroy Mills asks about taxpayer funding of abortions.

Muller says he opposes taxpayer funding of abortions.

Endorsements Committee Chair Peggy Huang asks about homelessness and Dana Point’s efforts.

Muller says they have worked with Mercy House to identify the homeless and connect them with services. He says the City changed its ordinances to allow the City to prosecute City ordinances (rather than rely on the District Attorney) as a way to protect residents from panhandling, camping, etc. if homeless individuals refuse services.

Weigand moves and Davies seconds recommending Muller for Dana Point City Council.

THE COMMITTEE VOTES 6-0 TO RECOMMEND MULLER FOR DANA POINT CITY COUNCIL.

General Comment

Cynthia Ward is Tim Whitacre’s alternate on the Central Committee. She says she is running for Mayor of Anaheim. She says she is collecting signatures solely to block any of her opponents. She says four Republicans are running already. She argues that it is destructive to the Republican Party to pick sides in the Mayoral race. She says she has been fighting for conservative values in Anaheim and urges neutrality in open seats.

Bucher moves and Diep seconds to adjourn the Endorsements Committee at 6:36 PM.

2 Responses to “Almost Live from OC GOP Endorsements Committee, Round 2 for November 2018”

  1. Robyn Nordell said

    Chris – thanks for another extremely helpful report!

  2. […] the Endorsements Committee’s August 6 meeting, one candidate who asked to be delayed from the Endorsement Committee’s July 19 meeting, and a handful of candidates who collected enough signatures from Central Committee members to […]

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