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OC’s Top Ten 2018 Primary Election Stories

Posted by Chris Nguyen on June 6, 2018

This is what $14 million of campaign spending looks like to average voters. My parents received nearly 100 pieces of mail from CD-39 candidates and IEs.

By contrast, here’s my paltry 6 pieces of mail from CD-45 laid out over the same section of my living room floor. I should note I did not include slates in either photo.

With 188,000 votes remaining to count in Orange County, here are the top ten OC Primary Election stories after the completion of the first night of results:

  1. DCCC Pulls It Off – Traditional Republican vs. Democrat General Elections Across the Board in Congress
    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), House Majority PAC, and their allies managed to get their first-time candidates to the top two against a Republican elected official in all three Congressional Districts where Republicans threatened to take both of the top two slots, which would have shut Democrats out of the general election.In the 39th Congressional District being vacated by the retiring Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), where $14 million was spent, former Assemblywoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton) will face off against Lottery-Winning Philanthropist Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda).  The DCCC spent over $2 million hitting Supervisor Shawn Nelson (R-Fullerton) and former Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) while their allied House Majority PAC spent $300,000 hitting Huff and promoting businessman Phil Liberatore (R-La Habra).  It worked well, as Liberatore is in third place.

    In the 48th Congressional District where $9.6 million was spent, incumbent Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) will face off against a Democrat, either Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) or Hans Kierstad (D-Laguna Beach), who are separated by a mere 73 votes.  The DCCC spent nearly $1.7 million hitting Baugh and promoting businessman John Gabbard (R-Laguna Beach).  It worked well as Baugh is in fourth place, 1,146 votes behind Keirstad while Gabbard is the next highest Republican.

    In the 49th Congressional District being vacated by the retiring Darrell Issa (R-Vista) where $15.5 million was spent, Board of Equalization Member Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) will face off against a Democrat, either Attorney Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) or Qualcomm Heiress Sara Jacobs (D-Encinitas).  The DCCC spent almost $1.7 million hitting Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside) knocking him to sixth place behind Harkey, three Democrats, and San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar (R-Encinitas).  To add insult to injury, six Republicans split the vote to succeed Chavez in the 76th Assembly District, such that the top two candidates for the 76th District are Democrats in a seat that had only seen Republicans in the general election since it was drawn in the last redistricting.  To add further insult to injury, one of those Democrats is…Elizabeth Warren (D-Oceanside).

  2. Senator Ling-Ling Chang Elected After Senator Newman Becomes Second Democrat Recalled from the Legislature in California History
    Senator Josh Newman becomes only the fifth State Legislator recalled in California history and only the second Democrat after Senator Edwin Grant was recalled in 1914.  (An interesting aside: in all five successful legislative recalls, the replacement elected was a Republican.)  Anger over Newman’s gas tax vote helped propel Newman to this historic position.

    Former Assemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar), who narrowly lost to Newman in 2016, now becomes Senator Ling-Ling Chang.

  3. Fourth Supervisorial District Way Too Close to Call
    Just 509 votes separate first place from third place in the Fourth Supervisorial District, where six candidates are vying to succeed the termed out Shawn Nelson (R-Fullerton).

    Mayor Tim Shaw (R-La Habra) and Mayor Doug Chaffee (D-Fullerton) are currently in the top two spots while Retired Fire Captain Joe Kerr (D-Placentia) is in the third spot.  Councilwoman Lucille Kring (R-Anaheim) is 1,364 votes behind Kerr.

  4. November Runoff, as District Attorney Tony Rackauckas Gets 39%, Supervisor Todd Spitzer 35%
    As expected, the four-way race for District Attorney sends incumbent Tony Rackauckas (R-San Clemente) into a runoff with Supervisor Todd Spitzer (R-Orange).

    Not as expected, Spitzer managed to drag Rackauckas down below 40%, which is by far, the lowest percentage won by any Countywide incumbent in decades (“Countywide” meaning elected officials voted on throughout the entire County; it excludes officials voted on in districts).

  5. Can Don Barnes Prevent a Runoff for Sheriff?
    Undersheriff Don Barnes sits atop 50.7% of the vote, far ahead of LA County Detective/Senior Investigator Duke Nguyen (D-Tustin) who has 30.0% and Retired Sergeant/Mayor Dave Harrington (R-Aliso Viejo) who has 19.3%.  Embarrassingly for Harrington, he even came in third place in Aliso Viejo, the city where is the Mayor.

    Barnes probably can hang on to his 50% to stop a runoff and become Sheriff-Elect, but if late absentees or provisionals break strongly enough against him, he could be forced into a runoff, but it is nearly impossible for someone who wins a nonpartisan primary by 20% to lose in the runoff, so the question is do we say “Sheriff-Elect Barnes” in June or in November.

  6. Diep Defeats Haskin in the 72nd Assembly District
    Councilman Tyler Diep (R-Westminster) defeated PepsiCo Government Relations Director Greg Haskin (R-Fountain Valley) in the 72nd District seat being vacated by Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), who placed fourth in his race for Governor.  With Democrat Josh Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) getting 36.8% of the vote as the sole Democrat running, this seat will stay in Republican hands after Diep defeats Lowenthal in the runoff.

    The Democrats running against Assemblyman Steven Choi (R-Irvine), Assemblyman Bill Brough (R-Dana Point), and even Senate Republican Leader Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) all achieved higher percentages than Lowenthal, and Choi, Brough, and Bates occupy some of the safest Republican seats in the Legislature.

  7. County Board of Education
    In the County Board of Education, conservatives and pro-charter groups easily retained the Trustee Area 5 seat being vacated by Linda Lindholm (R-Laguna Niguel), as Lisa Sparks (R-Newport Beach) won 56% in a five-way race beating the second place union-backed Democrat by 31%.

    There’s a nailbiter in Trustee Area 2 where pro-charter conservative Mari Barke (R-Los Alamitos) is ahead of incumbent David Boyd (D-Costa Mesa) by just 2,694 votes.

  8. The Four-Month Senator
    In an inexplicable act by the voters of the 32nd Senate District, the odds are high there will be a State Senator who serves from August 8-November 30 and a different Senator will take office in December.

    For the remaining four months of the seat vacated by disgraced Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), the candidates who made the top two are Rita Topalian (R) and Mayor Vanessa Delgado (D-Montebello); in third place is Mendoza (D-Artesia) himself followed by Councilman Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera) in fourth.  For the regular four-year seat running from 2018-2022, the candidates who made the top two are Topalian (R) and Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera), with Delgado (D-Montebello) third and Mendoza (D-Artesia) fourth.  Archuleta is the prohibitive front-runner in this safe Democratic seat when voters cast their ballots in the November 2018 general election.  For the August 8-November 30 seat, Topalian and Delgado will face off in an August 7 special election.  Then on November 6, voters will elect their Senator for the 2018-2022 term, presumably Archuleta.

    Awkwardly, this August 8-November 30 Senator won’t be able to accomplish much because the legislative session ends on August 31.  This also means the 32nd Senate District will have three Senators in one year: Mendoza through February 22, Topalian or Delgado from August 8-November 30, and Archuleta in December.

  9. Irvine Measure B Fails
    Despite bipartisan backing from both the Republican Party of Orange County and the Democratic Party of Orange County along with the backing of virtually every elected official, Measure B fails in a landslide, with just 37% in favor.

    Now, $10 million has to be found to clean up an unsuitable site for a veterans cemetery or else no veterans cemetery will be built.  Had Measure B passed, the veterans cemetery could have begun at the suitable strawberry field site.

  10. Westminster Voters Give Mayor 4-Year Term
    Westminster voters decided to make their city the second in Orange County (after Anaheim) to have a 4-year mayoral term.

Posted in 29th Senate District, 32nd Senate District, 39th Congressional District, 48th Congressional District, 49th Congressional District, 4th Supervisorial District, 72nd Assembly District, Irvine, Orange County Board of Education, Orange County District Attorney's Office, Orange County Sheriff, Westminster | 2 Comments »

OC’s Top 10 Races to Watch

Posted by Chris Nguyen on June 5, 2018

Here are OC’s top 10 races to watch tonight when the polls close at 8:00 PM, and the Registrar of Voters begins reporting results at 8:05 PM, 9:30 PM, and then every half-hour after that until 1:00 AM.

The Big Three: Congress

  1. 39th Congressional District
    This could well be the most chaotic seat in the country.  There are 17 candidates running, and only two can advance to November to succeed retiring Congressman Ed Royce (R-Fullerton).  A whopping $14 million has been spent in this primary, as this is one of the most competitive seats in the country, but it is entirely possible that two Republicans could make the top two, thereby turning a highly competitive seat into a guaranteed Republican win in November.  Democrats have spent millions trying to make sure one of their self-funding first-time candidates makes the top two while Republicans have spent millions trying to make sure two of their elected officials take both of the top two slots.  The front-runners (in alphabetical order) are lottery-winning philanthropist Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda), former State Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), former State Assemblywoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton), Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson (R-Fullerton), and businessman Andy Thorburn (R-Villa Park).

    Of the $14 million spent in this seat, the candidates’ campaigns spent over $10.6 million while there has been nearly $3.4 million in Independent Expenditure (IE) spending from PACs and other outside groups. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) alone spent nearly $2.1 million, with more than $829,000 against Huff, nearly $679,000 against Nelson, and over $560,000 supporting Cisneros.

  2. 49th Congressional District
    The 49th District was the closest Congressional race in the country in 2016, when Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) won re-election over Retired Colonel Doug Applegate (D-Oceanside) by 0.5%.  A staggering $15.5 million has been spent in this seat.  While it is possible for two Republicans to make the top two, it is more likely that this one will be a traditional Republican vs. Democrat race in November.  As in the 39th, Democrats have spent millions trying to make sure one of their self-funding never-before-elected candidates makes the top two while Republicans have spent millions trying to make sure two of their elected officials take both of the top two slots.  The front-runners (in alphabetical order) are 2016 Candidate Doug Applegate (D-Oceanside), Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside), Board of Equalization Member Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point), Qualcomm Heiress Sara Jacobs (D-Encinitas), Real Estate Investor Paul Kerr (D-Rancho Santa Fe), and Attorney Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano).

    Of the $15.5 million spent in this seat, the candidates’ campaigns spent nearly $9.6 million while there has been over $5.9 million in IE spending from PACs and other outside groups.  Women Vote! has spent nearly $2.3 million alone to support Jacobs.  The DCCC spent nearly $1.7 million against Chavez.

  3. 48th Congressional District
    The 48th Congressional District race was upended when former Assembly Republican Leader and OC GOP Chairman Scott Baugh (R-Huntington Beach) jumped in the race against Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach).  A relative piker compared to the 39th and 49th, “only” $9.6 million has been spent in this seat.  While it is possible for two Republicans to make the top two, it is more likely that this one will be a traditional Republican vs. Democrat race in November.  As in the 39th and 49th, Democrats have spent millions trying to make sure one of their self-funding first-time candidates makes the top two while Republicans have spent millions trying to make sure two of their elected officials take both of the top two slots.  Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) is widely expected to win the plurality of the vote.  The three candidates vying for the second slot (in alphabetical order) are Baugh (R-Huntington Beach), Scientist Hans Hans Keirstead (D-Laguna Beach), and Businessman Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach).

    Of the $9.6 million spent in this seat, the candidates’ campaigns spent nearly $5.3 million while there has been nearly $4.3 million in IE spending from PACs and other outside groups.  The DCCC alone spent over $1.8 million, with nearly $1.7 million against Baugh and $137,000 to promote Republican Businessman John Gabbard (R) in an attempt to siphon votes from Baugh.  Gabbard has condemned the DCCC’s spending.

Would-Normally-Be-The Big Three if Congress Hadn’t Descended Into Chaos

  1. 29th Senate District Recall
    Will Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) survive the recall?  What would ordinarily be one of the biggest races in the state has seen both pro-recall and anti-recall forces battling just to get voter attention, as the millions spent in SD-29 have been swamped by the mega-spending 39th Congressional District, with more than 2/3 of all SD-29 voters residing in CD-39.
  2. 72nd Assembly District
    As the sole Democrat in the race FreeConferenceCall.com President Josh Lowenthal (D-Huntington Beach) is expected to win the plurality in his race against 4 Republicans to replace Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) who is leaving this seat to run for Governor.  The two leading Republicans are Councilman Tyler Diep (R-Westminster) and former OC GOP Executive Director/current Pepsico Government Affairs Director Greg Haskin (R-Fountain Valley).  Diep and Haskin spent over $650,000 combined, a healthy sum for an Assembly race.  Unfortunately for them, they were swamped by the mega-spending 48th Congressional District, with more than 62% of all AD-72 voters residing in CD-48.
  3. 4th Supervisorial District
    In the race to succeed termed out Supervisor Shawn Nelson, the candidates in this race got drowned out by the 39th Congressional District and the 29th Senate District Recall Election.  Retired Fire Captain Joe Kerr (D-Placentia) and Mayor Tim Shaw (R-La Habra) are the endorsed candidates of their respective political parties.  However, Mayor Doug Chaffee (D-Fullerton) and Councilwoman Lucille Kring (R-Anaheim) came roaring in after their parties endorsed with spending to match Kerr and Shaw and outsized name ID from years in elected office in the two largest cities in the district.  Unfortunately for them all, they were swamped by both the mega-spending 39th Congressional District and the high-spending 29th Senate District recall, with nearly 62% of all BOS-4 voters residing in CD-39 and almost 85% of BOS-4 voters residing in SD-29.

The Rest of the Top 10

  1. 32nd Senate District
    This is the race that OC forgot, as only Buena Park lies in the LA County-based 32nd Senate District.  This is the seat vacated by Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) who resigned in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal.  Mendoza filed to run for his old seat in hopes voters will send him back to the Senate.  The anti-Mendoza vote among just Democrats is split between two Mayors, two City Councilmembers, a Community College Board Member, and a former Assemblyman.  There are exactly two Republicans running.  This chaos could well send Mendoza back into the top two – and possibly against a Republican.  It is unclear what would happen if the top two were Mendoza and a Republican in this strongly Democratic district.  Also, voters have to cast two votes for this seat: one for the special primary election today for the six months remaining on Mendoza’s term when he resigned and one for the regular primary election today for the four years of the 2018-2022 term on the seat.
  2. District Attorney
    When a County Supervisor with high Countywide name ID and a campaign warchest far exceeding $1 million decides to challenge the sitting District Attorney’s re-election bid, how could this not be a major race? Virtually everyone expects this to go to a run-off, including the candidates themselves judging by their campaign spending.   While Supervisor Todd Spitzer (R-Orange) spend several hundred thousand dollars on mail and slates, he appears to be holding $900,000 back for a run-off.  District Attorney Tony Rackauckas (R-San Clemente) seemed to have only bought slates and digital advertising for the primary.
  3. Sheriff
    Undersheriff Don Barnes (R-Lake Forest) is the front-runner to succeed Sheriff Sandra Hutchens.  The question is whether Retired Sergeant/Mayor Dave Harrington (R-Aliso Viejo) and Detective/Senior Investigator Duke Nguyen (D-Tustin) can pull enough of the vote to prevent Barnes from getting to 50%.  Harrington has relied heavily on slates while Nguyen has done direct mail to Democrats.
  4. County Board of Education, Trustee Area 5
    For eight straight elections, the incumbent was elected time and time again, even defeating future Assemblymen Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine) and Don Wagner (R-Irvine) for this seat.  Yet, now for the second election in a row, the voters will be electing a new trustee. In 2014, Linda Lindholm (R-Laguna Niguel) knocked off 32-year Incumbent Liz Parker (R-Costa Mesa), who was running for a ninth term.  Parker had been elected to the County Board of Education the same month she graduated from UCLA at the age of 22.  After a single 4-year term, Lindholm chose not to run for re-election.  Chapman University Dean Lisa Sparks (R-Newport Beach) is the front-runner to succeed Lindholm.

Snoozer in June, Battle in November

  • 45th Congressional District
    Congresswoman Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) is the sole Republican in the race.  The question is which Democrat will face off against Walters?  This is the safest of the four OC Congressional seats held by a Republican.
  • 34th Senate District
    Former Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Villa Park) is almost certainly the Democrats’ standard-bearer against Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove).  Nguyen beat Umberg 11 years ago in the race for County Supervisor when front-running Umberg fell to third behind two candidates named Nguyen.  As a non-incumbent, Nguyen handily won the Senate seat in 2014 against former Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana), who was a stronger candidate than Umberg.
  • 65th Assembly District
    Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) and former County Board of Education Trustee Alexandria Coronado (R-Cypress) are the only candidates on the ballot in June, so they will both advance to November due to the Top Two rule for Legislative and Congressional races.

Near-Snoozers

  • 55th Assembly District
    This one should be a snoozer, but it gets awkward if a second Republican gets into the top two with Assemblyman Phillip Chen (R-Diamond Bar) since there’s two Democrats running who could split the vote, allowing a Republican to slip into second behind Chen.
  • 74th Assembly District
    This one should be a snoozer, but it gets awkward if “Republican” Katherine Daigle (R-Irvine) gets into the top two with Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) since there’s three Democrats running who could split the vote.
  • Assessor
    With two opponents, there’s a tiny chance Assessor Claude Parrish (R-Tustin) could be forced into a run-off, but it is more likely he breaks 60%.
  • County Board of Education, Trustee Area 2
    While there has been immense spending by charter schools for Mari Barke (R-Los Alamitos), there has also been immense spending by unions for David Boyd (D-Costa Mesa).  However, while this spending is immense in a school board race, it’s not much compared to the spending in a Congressional race or an Assembly race.  Most of this trustee area was drowned out by the 48th Congressional District and the 72nd Assembly District.  Additionally, there’s a third candidate, Matt Nguyen (D-Westminster), who will split the anti-incumbent vote, but unlike most other seats on the June ballot, there’s no run-off for County Board of Education.

Total Snoozer That Could Have Been Interesting

  • 73rd Assembly District
    For some reason, Mayor Ed Sachs (R-Mission Viejo) raised and spent literally nothing in his bid to unseat Assemblyman Bill Brough (R-Dana Point).  Sachs’s campaign finance reports show he didn’t raise or spend a single dollar after paying to get on the ballot.  Had Sachs actually spent money, the 73rd could have been interesting.

Total Snoozers

  • Judge Ted Howard, Supervisor Michelle Steel (R-Sunset Beach), Auditor-Controller Eric Woolery (R-Orange), and Clerk-Recorder Hugh Nguyen (R-Santa Ana) will cruise to victory in June, probably each with more than 70% of the vote. 38th District Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-Lakewood), 46th District Congressman Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), 47th District Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), 36th District Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), and 68th District Assemblyman Steven Choi (R-Irvine) will cruise to victory in November; they can’t end their elections in June due to the Top Two rule for Legislative and Congressional races.

Virtually Unopposed

  • 69th District Assemblyman Tom Daly (D-Anaheim) has one opponent: Libertarian write-in candidate Autumn Browne (L-Santa Ana).  She will come in second and appear on the ballot in November.

Unopposed

  • Superintendent Al Mijares (R-Tustin), Supervisor Lisa Bartlett (R-Dana Point), and Treasurer Shari Freidenrich (R-Huntington Beach) are literally unopposed.  As long as at least one person in all of Orange County (or the 5th Supervisorial District) remembers to vote for each of them, they’ll all be re-elected.

(In the interest of full disclosure, Choi and Woolery are clients of Western American, the firm that owns this blog.  For his City Council campaign, Sachs retained Custom Campaigns, the defunct firm that previously owned this blog, as did Lindholm for her County Board of Education race.  The writer of this article is Spitzer’s alternate on the Republican Central Committee and is the Legislative Manager in Woolery’s office.  Finally, the writer of this article is [as far as he knows] not related to Janet Nguyen, Matt Nguyen, or Hugh Nguyen.  Nguyen is the most common Vietnamese last name, held by 36% of Vietnamese people.)

Posted in 29th Senate District, 2nd Supervisorial District, 32nd Senate District, 34th Senate District, 36th Senate District, 38th Congressional District, 39th Congressional District, 45th Congressional District, 46th Congressional District, 47th Congressional District, 48th Congressional District, 49th Congressional District, 4th Supervisorial District, 55th Assembly District, 5th Supervisorial District, 65th Assembly District, 68th Assembly District, 69th Assembly District, 72nd Assembly District, 73rd Assembly District, 74th Assembly District, Independent Expenditures, Orange County Assessor, Orange County Auditor-Controller, Orange County Board of Education, Orange County Clerk-Recorder, Orange County District Attorney's Office, Orange County Sheriff, Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector | Leave a Comment »

OC’s Best Ballot Designations, 2018 Primary Edition

Posted by Chris Nguyen on June 2, 2018

Ballot designations are the only piece of information that appear directly on the ballot other than a candidate’s name (and sometimes, political party).

Yesterday was OC Political’s coverage about OC’s worst ballot designations.  Today, we’ll talk about OC’s best ballot designations.

As noted yesterday, “One of the most important things a candidate does in a California election may well be selecting a ballot designation. That short phrase below a candidate’s name is the very last piece of information that every voter sees before casting their ballots. Additionally in low-profile races, that short phrase could well be the only piece of information that voters see about a candidate before casting their ballots. California’s unique ballot designation system has even received coverage in the national press, such as this 2016 article in The Hill.”

Just a reminder, appearance on this list has nothing to do with whether the candidate is great or terrible, whether the campaign is well-run or poorly-run, whether the campaign is well-funded or underfunded, or whether I personally like the candidate or hate the candidate; it’s simply commentary on their ballot designation.

(Sadly, this post won’t be anywhere near as funny as yesterday’s post on OC’s worst ballot designations.)

Elected officials’ ballot designations are an inherent advantage, so this article excludes the designations of elected officials.  Even in the worst years of anti-incumbency, incumbency remains an inherent advantage.  Incumbents win 90% of the time typically, and even in anti-incumbent years, we still see 75% of incumbents re-elected.

Also as with the list of worst ballot designations, we will not be including statewide races, partly because Brenda Higgins and Craig Alexander have been beating the dead horse of the Governor’s race this morning on OC Political (and the past month) and partly because we didn’t include statewide races on the worst ballot designation list.  We are only covering County seats or State/Federal districts that include OC. Without further ado:

OC’s Ten Best Ballot Designations (for Non-Incumbents/Non-Elected Officials)

  1. Orange County Undersheriff (Don Barnes in the Sheriff’s race)
    It doesn’t get much better than this when you’re running for Sheriff.  This is as close to an incumbent ballot designation as it gets.
  2. Deputy Assessor (Richard B. Ramirez in the Assessor’s race)
    This is a great ballot designation when you’re running for Assessor.  Unfortunately, for Ramirez, there is someone with a much better ballot designation in the race: Orange County Assessor Claude Parrish.  (Parrish’s designation just wasn’t eligible for this list since we are excluding the designations of elected officials.)
  3. University Dean/Professor (Lisa Sparks in the County Board of Education, Trustee Area 5)
    Everyone running for school board wants an education-related ballot designation.  However, “University Dean” is one of the most impressive ones available, showing both teaching and leadership experience at the highest levels of education.  The only better ones I’ve ever seen are “University President” (David Boyd when he first ran for County Board of Education, Trustee Area 2 in 2010) and iterations of Superintendent.
  4. Retired Fire Captain (Joe Kerr in the 4th Supervisorial District)
    Voters respect firefighters.  Fire Captain shows leadership experience.  Kerr’s tough battle is two of his opponents are mayors and two are councilmembers; it’s just their designations weren’t eligible for this list since we are excluding the designations of elected officials.
  5. Victims’ Rights Attorney (Brett Murdock in the District Attorney’s race)
    Voters have great sympathy victims and great respect for victims’ rights, and few offices are better-equipped to help victims than the District Attorney.  Unfortunately for Murdock, two of his opponents have better ballot designations: Orange County District Attorney and Orange County Supervisor/Attorney.  (Their designations just weren’t eligible for this list since we are excluding the designations of elected officials.)
  6. FBI Advisor/Attorney (Omar Siddiqui in the 48th Congressional District)
    This one is intriguing.  In yesterday’s worst ballot designations, I wrote “Unless you’re running for Attorney General, Superior Court Judge, or District Attorney, there is no value in using attorney as your ballot designation: think about all the insulting things people say about attorneys. There are some modifiers that make great exceptions…” Well, FBI Advisor/Attorney is a great exception.  It makes Siddiqui look almost like a prosecutor, and voters love prosecutors.  (Though Siddiqui’s ballot designation is strong, his problem is how much better-funded his four opponents are, including the incumbent.)
  7. Fraud Investigator/Businessman (Russell Rene Lambert in the 46th Congressional District)
    This one is also intriguing.  A “Fraud Investigator” has a certain degree of expertise.  It lends itself well to a government reformer message.  Unfortunately, for Lambert, party registration is very slanted against him in his district for this partisan seat and the fact that there is someone with a much better ballot designation in the race: United States Congressmember Lou Correa.  (Correa’s designation just wasn’t eligible for this list since we are excluding the designations of elected officials.)
  8. Orange County Business Owner (Scott Baugh in the 48th Congressional District and Greg Haskin in the 72nd Assembly District)
    This is a different spin on the usually strong ballot designation of Small Business Owner.  Adding “Orange County” makes it clear the candidate’s business is in Orange County, so they’re employing people locally.  The challenge for Republicans Baugh and Haskin is each of them are facing off against a Republican elected official: Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Councilman Tyler Diep; plus there are well-funded Democrats for both seats.  (Rohrabacher and Diep’s designations just weren’t eligible for this list since we are excluding the designations of elected officials.)
  9. Entrepreneur/Company President (Josh Lowenthal in the 72nd Assembly District)
    There’s some good advice going on in the 72nd Assembly District when two of the candidates make this list and a third was simply ineligible because we are excluding the designations of elected officials.  With Company President, FreeConferenceCall.com President Josh Lowenthal has conveyed to voters that he is not only a businessman but a rather successful one, and with the Entrepreneur portion, he’s showing he’s a self-made businessman.
  10. Technology CEO/Entrepreneur (Rachel Payne in the 48th Congressional District)
    See above.

Posted in 46th Congressional District, 48th Congressional District, 4th Supervisorial District, Orange County Assessor, Orange County Board of Education, Orange County District Attorney's Office, Orange County Sheriff | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Party Affiliations of Everyone Running for Everything on June 5

Posted by Chris Nguyen on May 31, 2018

In prior elections, some of the most popular articles on OC Political in the run-up to elections are the ones identifying the partisan affiliations of candidates on the ballot.  So back by popular demand, OC Political presents the political party affiliations of everyone running for everything on the June 5, 2018 Primary Election ballot in Orange County.

(Okay, this list is not everyone running for literally everything; it is everyone running for offices whose party affiliations are not shown on the ballot.  If you want to know the party affiliation of candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Senate, House of Representatives, State Legislature, etc., just look on your ballot.)

Superior Court Judge, Office No. 13

  • Franklin Dunn – Republican
  • Theodore R. “Ted” Howard – Republican

Superintendent of Public Instruction

  • Steven Ireland – Democrat
  • Lily (Espinoza) Ploski – No Party Preference
  • Tony K. Thurmond – Democrat
  • Marshall Tuck – Democrat

County Superintendent of Schools

  • Al Mijares – Republican

County Board of Education, Area 2

  • Mari Barke – Republican
  • David L. Boyd – Democrat
  • Matt Nguyen – Democrat

County Board of Education, Area 5

  • Kimberly Clark – No Party Preference
  • Mike Dalati – Democrat
  • Dan Draitser – American Independent
  • Mary Navarro – Democrat
  • Lisa Sparks – Republican

Supervisor, 2nd District

  • Michael Mahony – Libertarian
  • Brendon Perkins – Democrat
  • Michelle Steel – Republican

Supervisor, 4th District

  • Cynthia Aguirre – Democrat
  • Doug Chaffee – Democrat
  • Rose Espinoza – Democrat
  • Joe Kerr – Democrat
  • Lucille Kring – Republican
  • Tim Shaw – Republican

Supervisor, 5th District

  • Lisa Bartlett – Republican

Assessor

  • Nathaniel Fernandez Epstein – Democrat
  • Claude Parrish – Republican
  • Richard B. Ramirez – Republican

Auditor-Controller

  • Toni Smart – American Independent
  • Eric H. Woolery – Republican

Clerk-Recorder

  • Hugh Nguyen – Republican
  • Steve Rocco – No Party Preference

District Attorney-Public Administrator

  • Lenore Albert-Sheridan – Democrat
  • Brett Murdock – Democrat
  • Tony Rackauckas – Republican
  • Todd Spitzer – Republican

Sheriff-Coroner

  • Don Barnes – Republican
  • David C. Harrington – Republican
  • Duke Nguyen – Democrat

Treasurer-Tax Collector

  • Shari L. Freidenrich – Republican

Posted in 2nd Supervisorial District, 4th Supervisorial District, 5th Supervisorial District, Orange County, Orange County Assessor, Orange County Auditor-Controller, Orange County Board of Education, Orange County Clerk-Recorder, Orange County District Attorney's Office, Orange County Sheriff, Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Live from the Sheriff’s Debate

Posted by Chris Nguyen on April 5, 2018

We are live from the Orange County Sheriff’s debate because (cue bad joke) there’s a new sheriff in town at the beginning of the year since Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has announced her retirement at the end of her term. 2 of the candidates running in the June primary to replace her are here tonight: Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes (R-Lake Forest) and Retired Sergeant/Mayor David Harrington (R-Aliso Viejo). Detective/Senior Investigator Duke Nguyen (D-North Tustin) is not present. The debate is sponsored by Orange County Gun Owners PAC at JT Schmid’s in Anaheim.

6:45 PM: The debate begins as the moderator notes that both candidates served honorably in the Sheriff’s Department. Questions will be asked by Orange County Gun Owners Board Members. The moderator jokes the tough questions will begin with asking for favorite ice cream favors. He then asks for opening statements.

Don Barnes notes he is the second in command at the OCSD. He is the only candidate with law enforcement management. He has been with OCSD for 30 years.

Dave Harrington spent 29 years in the OCSD as a “street cop.” He says he had to make decisions quickly and not follow bureaucratic procedures.

The first question is how did each arrive at his position on CCWs, and does he favor increased CCWs.

Barnes signed a declaration on “good cause” in 2012. After Peruta, he helped issue thousands of CCWs. There are now 14,000 CCWs in OC, the most of any County. He has made CCW processing more streamlined and efficient. He says the declaration was correct in 2012 but is now out of date. He is proud of the increased CCWs since Peruta.

Harrington says he has held his position as a constitutional conservative since the age of 16. He says Barnes attacked the 2nd Amendment in 2012 and that constitutional rights are not subject to data. He says he does not blow with the wind on constitutional rights. He says he does not waffle or pander. He says it is foundational. He tells the story of getting a liberal Democrat to support him.

Barnes, in rebuttal, notes a lot of sheriffs did not change since 2012. He says it is a test of character to admit something was wrong and he is not going to reverse course.

6:55 PM: The next question is about disarming faculty on campus.

Harrington notes 500 armed cops protected actors and actresses at the Academy Awards. He says any school staff member, faculty or not, should be able to carry on campus. He says school campuses should be hardened. He notes someone could have driven a car onto his children’s campus and harmed 100 of them. He noted first contact with an armed person ends most shootings. He asks what would have happened if the football coach in Parkland could have had his gun.

Barnes says students should be taught what to do in an active shooter incident. Fire drills have ensured students no longer die in school fires. He is sponsoring legislation to have active shooter drills in school. He wants to educate kids as to what to do. He has helped seize guns from students. He is concerned about arming staff at will because law enforcement might shoot armed staff incorrectly thinking they’re the active shooter. He wants to increase School Resource Officers from law enforcement.

Harrington, in rebuttal, says he taught active shooter drills in Yorba Linda churches and private schools, which got the public school district to institute the training locally.

Barnes, in rebuttal, says OCSD has been doing active shooter drills before and after Harrington. The legislation would require all schools, including very liberal ones, to participate.

7:02 PM: The next question is about school safety.

Barnes notes Saddleback Valley Unified School District has been resistant to active shooter drills. Once he got them to agree, they found the drills taught the schools a lot, as they made a number of mistakes before the drills. He discusses adding School Resource Officers.

Harrington says active shooter drills can be mandated by local school districts. He calls on public engagement to persuade parents to pressure their school boards to implement drills. He calls for hardening campuses to keep shooters from getting on to campus.

7:06 PM: The next question is about non-security prevention options.

Barnes says OC is the only county in the State with a center that identifies threats. They also have a mobile assessment theme. He says schools do not have uniform training and prevention like law enforcement does. He notes he successfully persuaded a reluctant Saddleback Valley Unified School District to come on board. He says uniform response protocols on active shooters will help save lives, like fire drills and earthquake drills have.

Harrington was a Gang Reduction Intervention Prevention (GRIP) officer. He says GRIP could have identified the Parkland shooter. He calls on teachers identifying at-risk youth and working with law enforcement to steer them to programs.

7:10 PM: The next question is who should be encouraged to apply for CCWs and what would be an acceptable good cause statement.

Harrington says he would encourage everyone to apply. He notes even realtors have risk. He says exercising rights protect rights. He notes they are exercising their First Amendment rights tonight, so the Second Amendment needs to be exercised.

Barnes said half of the people he spoke to at a gun show had no idea that OC issues CCWs. He says OC is as close to shall-issue as California law allows. He says 95% of CCW applications are approved in OC. He notes the 5% are disqualifying everywhere, such as felony backgrounds or mental illness. He says good cause is part of California law. OC is issuing 400 new CCWs per month. He says Sheriff’s deputies will help applicants find a good cause statement. He supports issuing 5-year CCWs.

7:16 PM: The next question asks what is a good cause statement for a faculty member and about national CCW reciprocity.

Barnes is opposed because he feels training needs to be completed and needs to meet the same standards. He says CCW civilians in OC are treated like off-duty peace officers. He says he does not know what the protocols are in other states. He wants everyone to get home safely. If the same standards are applied nationally, then he would support national CCW reciprocity.

Harrington says law enforcement has national reciprocity. He notes every state has different standards, but other states have strong shooting records. He notes this is a constitutional right, and just because people shoot at different levels they shouldn’t lose their right. He notes there are cops who shoot at different levels and some are squirrelly. He says government should not govern rights but instead secure rights.

Barnes, in rebuttal, says issuing 14,000 CCWs is not anti-Second Amendment. He says in a room full of people, it would be a major problem if untrained people started shooting.

7:22 PM: The next question is about the California assault weapons ban.

Barnes says he is in favor of overturning the ban. He says people should be able to own assault rifles. He notes there are not problems in Nevada, Arizona, and other states without bans. He says it is a sad state of affairs that Sacramento is taking away the rights of law-abiding citizens.

Harrington agrees. He says kids are overprescribed pharmaceutical drugs. He is concerned that drugs cause some kids to do squirrelly things, and it is commen sense that they should not have access to guns after due process.

Barnes says any person who already owns a gun should not need another 10-day waiting period to get additional guns. He says communist countries restrict guns.

7:26 PM: The next question is about raising the gun purchasing age to 21.

Harrington says having the ability to vote should allow an 18-year-old to seek a gun like any other adult. He notes very few active shooters are inside the 18-21 age range.

Barnes says if someone is old enough to serve in the military, they’re old enough to own a gun. He notes parents should be able to train their children how to shoot at any age. He trained his own daughter at a young age to handle a gun.

7:28 PM: The next question is about 10-round magazine limits.

Barnes opposes the limits and notes that criminals likely have more rounds than the limit would.

Harrington agrees with Barnes on magazine limits. He then calls for a ban on violent video games.

7:30 PM: The moderator asks about party and ideology. Both state they are conservative Republicans.

The moderator the asks how they will win votes from liberal Democrats in the race for Sheriff.

Harrington says standing up for your beliefs honestly earns the respect of voters.

Barnes notes the Sheriff is a nonpartisan office. He will work with anyone of any stripe to make OC safer. He notes how he worked with Congressmembers Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) and Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) to get over $1 million in anti-terrorism funding. He notes working with Democrats is necessary to win votes on state legislation.

The moderator asks if Harrington is concerned about alienating others.

Harrington compares working across the aisle to Chad Mayes. He opposes working across the aisle and wants to fight for his beliefs. He says people know when you are on the correct side. He notes placing and passing the anti-sanctuary state effort in Aliso Viejo.

Barnes notes he fought SB 54 (sanctuary state) in Sacramento. He spoke to both US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. He sought loopholes on SB 54 and made inmate release dates public. While Becerra threatened to arrest the Sheriff, Governor Jerry Brown said OC was following the law.

7:38 PM: The moderator asks about CCWs from out of state.

Barnes says training done in OC guarantees safety. Someone following a different standard might be mistaken for a criminal in OC.

7:39 PM: The next question asked is if either candidate would hire the other.

Barnes says Harrington is retired but would be evaluated if he sought to return to the OCSD.

Harrington says he would keep Barnes for a one-month transition period. Harrington says he would not return except as Sheriff or not at all.

7:41 PM: The next question asked is if a CCW-holder is involved in a shooting that appears to be improper and how each would respond to the media.

Barnes would argue that Jerry Brown put tens of thousands of murders back on the street, and no one talks about that. He complains that the media bias causes them to always calls the OCSD to ask if the latest shooter had a CCW. He would do a proper investigation and simply follow the facts.

Harrington says the OCSD should not issue no-comment. He says comment in general on how CCW training is done in a positive light, and give statistics about the number of CCW holders who have not acted poorly.

Barnes notes responding in 30 minutes is an act of inexperience. He says first reports are almost always wrong. The truth is only uncovered after lengthy investigation.

Harrington says he would not talk about the actual incident but rather the positives of the CCW program instead.

7:46 PM: The next question is about the effect of clearing the homeless from the Santa Ana Riverbed.

Barnes says it has already been done. He blames Prop 47 and Prop 57. He notes homelessness has soared statewide. He calls on acting methodically while following case law which prevents criminalizing the homeless because they “have to be somewhere,” quoting case law. He says every homeless veteran has been connected to services. He says they cited 500 homeless for other crimes, but Prop 47 prevented keeping them in jail. They went to federal court where Judge David Carter called the OCSD a national model. He says there must be more shelter beds in order to win the federal court case.

Harrington says court cases don’t confront him as a street cop. He blasted the waste left behind on the Santa Ana Riverbed. He calls this a failure of leadership. He says the Sheriff should have seized control of the riverbed and done OCSD’s job 7 years ago. He says, “bureaucrats hide behind case law.” He says the law only requires the availability of resources.

Barnes says Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Huntington Beach have had increases, just like everywhere else in OC. He says it’s not just a riverbed problem. He says Sacramento legislation has caused this by releasing inmates. Barnes says the Harrington approach would have been slapped with injunctions by the federal court. He says Anaheim and Orange forced the homeless onto the riverbed to make it a County problem instead of a City problem.

Harrington says the County failed by not spending $185 million. He says Santa Ana failed to enforce the law. He says he researched the law and understands it, so he would not have been enjoined by the federal court.

7:56 PM: The next question asks for a pledge on gun issues.

Barnes says he would not reverse the gun-friendly policies he has helped implement.

Harrington says he would use the bully pulpit of the Sheriff’s Department to fight for gun rights.

8:00 PM: An audience member asks about fighting gangs in Orange County.

Harrington says GRIP is an early intervention program to prevent gang membership. He calls for an ounce of prevention being worth seven pounds of cure. He says law enforcement cannot just arrest gang members, they must also prevent youth from joining gangs in the first place.

Barnes agrees with Harrington. He notes the OCSD has numerous early intervention programs. He says the federal government must secure the border. He says there is a demand for drugs which means the cartels will supply. He wants to fight drug demand such as opioid addiction. Fighting drug demand reduces cartels’ supply efforts.

8:03 PM: Another audience member asks what is the biggest issue the next Sheriff faces and what they will do about it.

Barnes says hiring, retention, and budget is the biggest issue. He says retention is through the roof. It costs $130,000 to hire a new deputy. $14 million will be saved over the next six years from retaining deputies. He says OC has the lowest property tax allocation of any County. He speaks of cutting spending without cutting services.

Harrington says Sacramento legislation is the biggest issue. He calls for fighting legislation before it passes. He refers to sanctuary state, Prop 47, and Prop 57. He says these programs cost more than any budgetary issue. He blasts the escape of three inmates that cost $10.9 million. He says no one railed against Prop 47 and Prop 57. He says railing against a measure is not standing at a press conference with one camera but standing in front of 200 people at a City Council meeting.

Barnes debated Senator Bob Hertzberg on Prop 57. He fought the sanctuary state legislation in legislative committee hearings before it was passed. He said there were legislators who stated they would rather send Donald Trump a message even if it hurt California residents.

8:09 PM: The third and final audience question asks if a group of CCW holders would be permitted to patrol schools.

Harrington says he would consider it and would consider anything. He says his children’s school is unprotected, as is every school in his city.

Barnes says if there are protocols in place and the people are known to law enforcement with clear protocols in place, he would support it. He would not want law enforcement to misidentify them in an active shooter situation, so protocols would protect them.

8:12 PM: The moderator asks that each candidate give an unapologetic and forceful defense of the 2nd Amendment in Sacramento and in local cities. He calls on training people unfamiliar with guns. He urges the Sheriff whoever it is to only endorse candidates for office who support the 2nd Amendment. He then makes a pitch for audience members to join Orange County Gun Owners PAC.

8:14 PM: The moderator adjourns the debate.

Posted in Orange County Sheriff | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Sheriff’s Race: Barnes Raises Three Times as Much as Harrington While Harrington Pursues Slate Strategy

Posted by Chris Nguyen on February 8, 2018

Undersheriff Don Barnes (R-Lake Forest) and Mayor Dave Harrington (R-Aliso Viejo)

Undersheriff Don Barnes (R-Lake Forest)
and Mayor Dave Harrington (R-Aliso Viejo)

In the race to succeed retiring Sheriff Sandra Hutchens (R-Dana Point), campaign finance reports for 2017 filed last week show that Undersheriff Don Barnes (R-Lake Forest) has raised three times as much as Mayor Dave Harrington (R-Aliso Viejo) while Harrington has outspent Barnes.  Harrington has reserved 14 slates while Barnes has purchased 2 slates; however, Harrington has only placed deposits on 12 and still needs to finish paying for them.  The Harrington campaign is clearly hoping slates can overpower the near-incumbent strength ballot designation of “Orange County Undersheriff” that Barnes will wield.

In 2017, Barnes raised $233,595 while Harrington raised $70,903.  Harrington also loaned himself $140,000.  While OC Political is usually skeptical of loans since most candidates use them simply to inflate fundraising numbers, this is not the case here, as Harrington has already spent $17,900 of his loan, and if he does pay for his slates in full, he will have spent $101,965 of his loan to his campaign.

In 2017, Barnes spent $57,743 with an additional $18,125 in accrued bills, totaling $75,868.  Harrington spent $88,802, with an additional $84,065 in accrued bills, totaling $172,867.  Harrington paid $18,172 to slates and needs to pay another $83,015 in order to complete his slate payments.  Harrington shows $101,187 (59%) of his spending (including both paid expenditures and unpaid bills) on slates.

By the close of 2017, Harrington has spent more money on slates than he has raised, needing to dip into his own pocket if he wishes to hang on to all the slates.  Barnes ended 2017 with four times as much cash-on-hand as Harrington, once unpaid bills are accounted for.  Harrington’s spending, including both paid expenditures and unpaid bills, is 2.5 times what he has raised while Barnes’s spending is 1/3 of what he has raised.

How much more is Harrington willing to self-fund in his battle against Barnes?  Barnes’s Undersheriff designation is worth a lot more than $101,187, so slates alone will not carry the day for Harrington.  Harrington will need to either step up his fundraising or dig even deeper into his own pocket to be competitive.

Either way, after the June 5 election, once the new term of office commences January 7, there’s a new sheriff in town.

For visual learners:

Candidate Contributions Loans Unpaid
Bills
Expenditures Cash on Hand
(COH)
COH Minus
Unpaid Bills
COH Minus
Unpaid Bills and Loans
Don Barnes (R) $233,595 $0 $18,125 $57,743 $175,851 $157,726 $157,726
Dave Harrington (R) $70,903 $140,000 $84,065 $88,802 $122,100 $38,035 ($101,965)
Note: Figures may be off by one dollar due to rounding.

 

Posted in Orange County Sheriff | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »