OC Political

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

Live from OC GOP Central Committee: Endorsements for November 2022 Election Round 2

Posted by Chris Nguyen on July 25, 2022

It’s been some time since we’ve done a live blog, so it’s probably time to start up again. It should be noted the phone reception in Costa Mesa has been much more challenging than back when the meetings were held in Irvine.

The following candidates who received the recommendation of the Endorsements Committee are up for consideration tonight by the Republican Party of Orange County Central Committee:

  • Max Duncan for Aliso Viejo City Council
  • Hon. Don Caskey for Laguna Hills City Council
  • Hon. Erica Pezold for Laguna Hills City Council
  • Josh Sweeney for Laguna Hills City Council
  • Hon. Dave Wheeler for Laguna Hills City Council
  • Stephanie Winstead for Laguna Niguel City Council
  • Robert Ruesch for Mission Viejo City Council, District 1
  • Hon. Brian Goodell for Mission Viejo City Council, District 2
  • Hon. Ed Sachs for Mission Viejo City Council, District 3
  • Hon. Trish Kelley for Mission Viejo City Council, District 4
  • Hon. Wendy Bucknum for Mission Viejo City Council, District 5
  • Joe Stapleton for Newport Beach City Council, District 1
  • Robyn Grant for Newport Beach City Council, District 4
  • Lauren Kleiman for Newport Beach City Council, District 6
  • Hon. Anne Figueroa for Rancho Santa Margarita City Council
  • Hon. Brad McGirr for Rancho Santa Margarita City Council
  • Hon. Steve Knoblock for San Clemente City Council
  • Ray Schnell for Tustin City Council, District 3
  • Kira Davis for Capistrano Unified School District, Trustee Area 2
  • Jim Glantz for Capistrano Unified School District, Trustee Area 4
  • Hon. Michelle Barto for Newport-Mesa Unified School District, Trustee Area 5
  • Barbara George for Newport-Mesa United School District, Trustee Area 4
  • Todd Frazier for Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, Trustee Area 4
  • Hon. Greg Kunath for Saddleback Valley Unified School District, Trustee Area 1

These candidates are also eligible for consideration by the Central Committee but received a neutral recommendation from the Endorsements Committee:

  • Hon. Matt Rahn for State Assembly, 71st District
  • Kathryn Sanchez for State Assembly, 71st District
  • Jeff von Waldburg for Laguna Niguel City Council
  • Jess Battaglia for Yorba Linda City Council
  • Janice Lim for Yorba Linda City Council

One candidate is also eligible for consideration by the Central Committee but received a negative recommendation from the Endorsements Committee:

  • Tom Miller for Newport Beach City Council, District 1

The Central Committee already approved official endorsements from the Republican Party of Orange County for the following candidates:

  • Hon. Eric Ching for Congress, 38th District
  • Hon. Young Kim for Congress, 40th District
  • Hon. Michelle Steel for Congress, 45th District
  • Christopher Gonzales for Congress, 46th District
  • Hon. Scott Baugh for Congress, 47th District
  • Hon. Brian Maryott for Congress, 49th District
  • Hon. Kelly Seyarto for State Senate, 32nd District
  • Hon. Rhonda Shader for State Senate, 34th District
  • Hon. Janet Nguyen for State Senate, 36th District
  • Matt Gunderson for State Senate, 38th District
  • Hon. Phillip Chen for State Assembly, 59th District
  • Hon. Soo Yoo for State Assembly, 67th District
  • Mike Tardif for State Assembly, 68th District
  • Hon. Diane Dixon for State Assembly, 72nd District
  • Hon. Steven Choi for State Assembly, 73rd District
  • Hon. Laurie Davies for State Assembly, 74th District
  • Hon. Pat Bates for Orange County Board of Supervisors, 5th District
  • Hon. Peggy Huang for Superior Court Judge, Office No. 30
  • Tara Lea Ricksen for Aliso Viejo City Council
  • Hon. Michael Gates for Huntington Beach City Attorney
  • Hon. Tony Strickland for Huntington Beach City Council
  • Casey McKeon for Huntington Beach City Council
  • Gracey Van Der Mark for Huntington Beach City Council
  • Pat Burns for Huntington Beach City Council
  • Hon. Anthony Kuo for Irvine City Council
  • John Park for Irvine City Council
  • Guadalupe Lara for La Habra City Council
  • Ray Gennawey for Laguna Niguel City Council
  • Erik Weigand for Newport Beach City Council, District 3
  • Hon. Mark Murphy for Mayor of Orange
  • Hon. Kathy Tavoularis for Orange City Council, District 3            
  • Hon. Chip Monaco for Orange City Council, District 4
  • John Gyllenhammer for Orange City Council, District 6       
  • Hon. Austin Lumbard for Mayor of Tustin
  • Hon. Carlos Rodriguez for Yorba Linda City Council

The meeting commences with an invocation from Pano Frousiakis and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Ryan May.

After the roll call, the ex officio members are sworn in since this is the first Central Committee meeting since the certification of the primary election in late June.

OCGOP Chairman Fred Whitaker gives an update on the OCGOP’s efforts on targeted races. He also notes that Tom Miller contacted him moments ago to withdraw his endorsement request for Newport Beach City Council, District 1.

At 7:21, Whitaker asks Endorsements Committee Chairman Jeff Barke to deliver the committee’s report.

Barke notes that the Yorba Linda Water District endorsement requests have been deferred to August by mutual agreement of the candidates to allow all to be considered.

Barke notes new endorsements from the Mayor Carlos Rodriguez and two school board members for Jess Battaglia for Yorba Linda City Council.

In the 71st Assembly District campaign, Barke asks Endorsements Committee Member Erik Weigand to share new information. He says there is an endorsement application question about contributions to Democrats in the past ten years. Weigand notes there are eight donations from Matt Rahn to Democrat Barack Obama in 2012, ranging from May to October. He also gave more recently to Donald Trump, Ken Calvert, and Jeff Stone. Weigand expresses concern that Rahn was not forthcoming about the 2012 donations. Barke says that Rahn implied Pastor Tim Thompson (whoever that is) endorsed him, but Thompson called Barke to tell him he is supporting Kathryn Sanchez for this seat.

Whitaker notes that the Yorba Linda Council race is divided between Janice Lim and Jess Battaglia.

At 7:32 PM, Jennifer Beall moves and Laurie Davies seconds the consent calendar.

Anthony Kuo asks for confirmation that incumbents Ed Sachs and Greg Raths are running in the same seat and that Sachs is recommended. Whitaker confirms. Kuo expresses support.

No one pulls anyone from the consent calendar of people with positive recommendations from the Endorsements Committee. At 7:35, the vote is unanimous.

First of the contested races is the 71st Assembly District between Matt Rahn and Kathryn Sanchez.

Councilman Matt Rahn became a Republican 10 years ago. Darrell Issa, Ken Calvert, Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher, Phil Chen, Steven Choi, Don Wagner, Diane Dixon, and half the Assembly Republican Caucus have endorsed him. He has supported conservative Republicans and even supported Trump before other Republicans did. He says living in California and seeing Democratic governance made him a Republican. He fought against cannabis dispensaries and sanctuary cities. He is pro life and supports gun rights and school choice.

Kate Sanchez states she is a lifelong Republican. She blasts California’s gas prices, taxes, and inflation. She says she has the ability to lead and has experience from the California Policy Center, working on school choice. She was interim Executive Director of the California Women’s Leadership Association. She was a Congressional staffer and worked on solutions for immigration. She notes the district has unique needs, where she has lived and worked for 30 years. She notes endorsements from Laurie Davies, Melissa Melendez, Harmeet Dhillon, the entire Rancho Santa Margarita Council, and members of the Mission Viejo Council. She states she is the only lifelong Republican in the race and is a proven conservative.

At 7:45, Benjamin Yu asks to delay the endorsement to August, but Whitaker notes there is no motion on the floor yet.

At 7:46, Jon Fleischman asks Rahn why he didn’t disclose his contributions to Barack Obama in 2012 and endorsement of Kamala Harris in 2016. He also asks about donations to a tax measure.

Rahn states it was his job in Washington, DC to make the contributions as an advocate for firefighters. He disputes that he endorsed Harris. He says the Riverside County GOP vetted this and still endorsed him. Rahn says that the State took away City funding, and every city in southwest Riverside County placed a tax increase measure on the ballot.

At 7:49, Baron Night asks that Rahn became a Republican ten years ago. He says the Registrar’s record was that he became a Republican in 2014.

Rahn states he was a Decline to State. In Washington, DC, and Sacramento, he saw how broke the values of government leaders were. He moved to California from Nevada. He became a Republican because conservative Republican leaders mentored him on conservative values.

At 7:52, Jennifer Beall asks Sanchez if she has ever endorsed or received an endorsement from a Democrat.

Sanchez says she has never endorsed a Democrat nor given money to one.

At 7:53, Beall asks Sanchez if she will ever vote for a tax increase.

Sanchez says no.

Beall asks about creating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) committees like in Temecula.

Sanchez says no.

Rahn is unsure what the comment about Democrats supporting him is. He says when Temecula passed the sales tax increase, it was for public safety and cost the average taxpayer $100-$200. However, he then refinanced CFDs to lower individual taxpayer burden by $200-$1,400. He says the DEI Commission was established to avoid a CVRA lawsuit. The Commission dealt with Council districting, senior programs, and teenager programs.

At 7:57, Zack McCready asked if Sanchez reviewed a hit piece on Rahn that was distributed to the Central Committee.

She says she was not aware of the piece.

At 7:59, Ray Gennawey asks for which OC Republicans have endorsed each.

Rahn states he is endorsed by Darrell Issa, Mimi Walters, Steven Choi, Vince Fong, Phil Chen, Don Wagner, Diane Dixon, Ed Sachs, Greg Raths, OC Professional Firefighters, and Association of OC Deputy Sheriffs. There is murmuring from the Committee, as Fong has never represented OC.

Sanchez says the entire Rancho Santa Margarita Council, Mission Viejo Councilmembers Wendy Bucknum and Trish Kelley, and Assemblywoman Laurie Davies.

Will O’Neill asks if Rahn would vote for either a tax increase or to put a tax increase on the ballot.

Rahn states he would not, and there is no circumstance in which he would in the Assembly.

At 8:02, Kermit Marsh asks who are the five largest entities endorsing each candidate.

Sanchez cites the California Young Republican Federation, Grow Elect, CRA, Reform California, CWLA

Rahn notes OC Professional Firefighters, Association of OC Deputy Sheriffs, the Riverside Firefighters and Deputies, California District Attorneys Association, Realtors Associations statewide and in both counties, and California Charter Schools Association.

At 8:05, Benjamin Yu blames the Redistricting Commission for this convoluted district. He asks if the candidates applied for the Riverside County Republican Party endorsement.

Sanchez says she got the majority of the votes but not the 2/3 supermajority to get the endorsement. The vote will be taken up again.

Rahn says he was only a few votes short of the 2/3 supermajority at Riverside County Republican Party Central Committee. The minutes of the meeting were lost. He urges the Central Committee to stand with the neutral recommendation of the Endorsements Committee.

At 8:08, Amy Phan West asks about mask mandates and vaccine passports. She asks if they will fight those.

Sanchez says she is 100% anti-mandate.

Rahn says he did exactly that as a Councilmember. Temecula stayed open and worked with Sheriff Chad Bianco to refuse to enforce the mandates. He says they lost only 1 restaurant in 2020 and then gained 2 in 2021. He says his record is 100% anti-mandate.

At 8:11, Zach McCready motions for an endorsement of Matt Rahn.

Rahn requests for a neutral endorsement in the 71st District.

At 8:13, Baron Night moves and Jennifer Beall seconds to endorse Kate Sanchez.

Chairman Whitaker asks for speakers for and against the endorsement.

At 8:16, Tim Whitacre speaks in favor of the motion for endorsing Sanchez. He says the committee relies on relationships. He says the Secretary of the Riverside County Republican Party, Desare Ferraro, can verify that the majority of that committee voted for Sanchez though not 2/3. He says relationships are important and deferring to those who know the candidates best. He notes after vetting by the Endorsements Committee, the committee had issues with Rahn but no issues with Sanchez. He urges votes for Sanchez with endorsements of people the committee trusts.

At 8:19, Zach McCready says he was contacted by both candidates over the weekend. In 2024, he will enthusiastically support the re-election of whoever wins in 2022. He notes the Endorsements Committee recommended a neutral endorsement. He says this should be left to the voters. He notes there are people like Darrell Issa who know both and endorsed Rahn. He notes there are others who know both and endorsed Sanchez.

At 8:22, Jennifer Beall notes redistricting and it is the safest Republican seat in the State. It is not a purple seat – it is a R+10 seat. She says Rahn is backed by many unions, who are already represented in Sacramento. She says conservatives need representation in Sacramento. She says Laurie Davies needs another conservative in Sacramento. She says Rahn raised taxes in Temecula and gave $2,300 to the tax increase.

At 8:25, Steve Moss admits he is a political neophyte and spoke with both candidates. He says it is important that they call him back and give information. He notes this is not a purple district, but is a red district. He blasts the hit piece against Rahn. He calls on both candidates to repudiate the hit. He urges everyone to support the Endorsements Committee’s neutral recommendation.

At 8:26, Whitaker calls the roll.

SANCHEZ ENDORSED FOR ASSEMBLY 41-5.

At 8:31, the committee moves on to Yorba Linda City Council: Jess Battaglia and Janice Lim are vying for the last endorsement (Incumbent Carlos Rodriguez has already been endorsed for the other Yorba Linda City Council seat.)

Anthony Kuo moves and Wendy Bucknum seconds endorsing Janice Lim.

At 8:33, Kuo noted the Endorsements Committee often tells candidates to volunteer for the party and get on City Commissions. Kuo describes her extensive volunteerism and her City Commission service. She worked on legislation with Congressman Ed Royce and Senator Bob Huff. He notes she goes above and beyond with her time and money to support Republicans.

At 8:35, Tim Shaw reads a statement from Yorba Linda Councilman Gene Hernandez. Hernandez notes that 3 Councilmembers have endorsed Battaglia. He states Battaglia has fought for school choice and is active in the community. He is a man of faith. Hernandez says Battaglia will be a team player and uphold conservative values.

At 8:36, Yorba Linda Councilwoman Tara Campbell met Lim 10 years ago working on school choice legislation with Bob Huff. Huff, Ed Royce, Young Kim, and Phil Chen have endorsed Lim. Campbell notes Yorba Linda Councilwoman Peggy Huang is the person vacating this seat and is the former Vice Chair of this party and plans to vote for Lim to succeed her. (Editor’s Note: Huang has not formally endorsed in this seat due to her candidacy for a judicial seat against Black Lives Matter Activist/former Public Defender Michele Bell) Campbell noted the extensive work to improve Yorba Linda through her commission seat. She notes Lim also chaired the city’s largest volunteer program and is engaged in the issues and helped Yorba Linda fight RHNA numbers for the past two years. She notes Lim has served the party for 15 years.

At 8:40, Leandra Blades endorses Jess Battaglia. She says he is honest, kind, and a servant-leader. She says she is shocked that Lim claims the endorsement of Shawn Youngblood. She claims Lim falsely claimed the endorsement of a church. She says it is untrue that Lim brought Blades into the party. She says Battaglia has spoken out at school board meetings against mask and vaccine mandates.

At 8:42, Sara Catalan says there is written confirmation from Youngblood that he endorsed Lim. Catalan says that Lim did not claim the endorsement of the church, but one of the church’s leaders, and the Battaglia team knows it because they tried to get the church leader to pull her endorsement. Catalan notes that a first appearance before the Central Committee should not be simply to ask for an endorsement. Catalan notes that Lim has volunteered at the party for 15 years.

At 8:46, Greg Gianelli reads another statement from Gene Hernandez noting the endorsements of 3 Councilmembers for Battaglia.

At 8:49, Will O’Neill asks if it is true that both candidates stated they will drop out if they do not get the OC GOP endorsement.

Barke states they did.

At 8:51, Benjamin Yu asks if it would be possible to delay the vote to August.

Several people murmur that they wouldn’t be able to drop out.

At 8:52, John Moorlach makes a substitute motion to endorse no one.

Whitaker asks for speakers on the motion.

At 8:53, Moorlach says the endorsement process is unique and will hurt people who are part of the party. He says he has friends backing both candidates.

At 8:54, Jon Fleischman says it would be great to have 2 candidates for 2 seats, but there are 3 candidates. He is a Yorba Linda resident, and there may be other Republicans running. He says Democrats are good at winnowing the field, and it is refreshing that the candidates are willing to drop out if the OC GOP makes an endorsement.

At 8:55, Whitaker holds a vote on the substitute motion of no endorsement.

MOTION FOR NO ENDORSEMENT FAILS

At 9:00, Whitaker holds a roll call vote on the previous motion to endorse Janice Lim for Yorba Linda City Council.

LIM ENDORSED FOR YORBA LINDA CITY COUNCIL 40-10.

At 9:05 PM, the meeting adjourns in memory of former Senator Bob Dutton, who was serving as San Bernardino County Assessor/Clerk-Recorder.

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