Conway led her caucus into the 2012 elections and into its smallest size since 1883. (In a ray of hope, while Republicans held 19 seats in 1883, the GOP gained 41 additional seats to reach 60 seats in 1885, thereby flipping a 61-19 majority for Democrats into a 60-20 majority for Republicans in two years).
While Conway’s failings and probable removal were the main thrust of the story, the more interesting information for our readership is that the two leading contenders in the story to replace Conway are both from Orange County.
In the last 30 years, there have been 18 Assembly Republican Leaders, but only four have been from Orange County:
- Ross Johnson (1988-1991)
- Curt Pringle (1995-1996, 1996-1997; the interruption in Pringle’s tenure as Republican Leader is because he was Speaker in 1996)
- Scott Baugh (1999-2000)
- Bill Campbell (2000-2001)
In the same time span, there have been 10 Senate Republican Leaders, and three have been from Orange County (and four have represented Orange County):
- Rob Hurtt (1995-1998)
- Ross Johnson (1998-2000)
- Dick Ackerman (2004-2008)
- Bob Huff (2012-present) – Huff is not from Orange County but represents substantial portions of OC
First elected in 2010, Wagner terms out in 2016. First elected in 2012, Allen terms out in 2024. (In both cases, I’m assuming that they are both re-elected the maximum number of terms allowed and serve those terms consecutively.)
In either case, Wagner or Allen would be the first Assembly Republican Leader from Orange County in a dozen years.
The next Assembly Republican Leader has exactly two priorities: protecting seats currently held by Republicans and winning seats occupied by Democrats. The top three seats the leader needs to protect are Jeff Gorell‘s Ventura County seat, Mike Morrell‘s San Bernardino County seat, and freshman Eric Linder‘s western Riverside County seat. Target #1 is the Antelope Valley seat held by freshman Steve Fox (D). Target #2 will be in the leader’s backyard (assuming Wagner or Allen is the next leader) with the North Orange County seat occupied by freshman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D).
Failure to preserve the existing seats 25 seats and failure to gain either of those target seats will result in the next leader going the way of Conway, and let’s not forget Conway became Republican Leader when Martin Garrick stepped down after losing a Republican seat in 2010.