OC Political

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

Posts Tagged ‘Shawn Nelson’

Breaking News: Brea Councilman Steve Vargas Enters CD-39 Race

Posted by Chris Nguyen on January 31, 2018

Steve Vargas

Councilman Steve Vargas (R-Brea)

Councilman Steve Vargas (R-Brea) is entering the race for the 39th Congressional District to succeed the retiring Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), becoming the seventh Republican (and fifth current or former elected official) candidate for the seat.  He faces off against Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson (R-Fullerton), former Assemblywoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton), former Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), Councilman Andrew Sarega (R-La Mirada), retired U.S. Navy Commander Mark Gaouette (R-Chino Hills), and perennial candidate John Cullum (R-Placentia).   There are also seven Democrats in the CD-39 race.

With seven candidates from each party, CD-39 is virtually assured a traditional Republican vs. Democrat match-up in November, though candidates can still choose to enter or withdraw until March 14 for CD-39.  (Filing for most Federal, State, and County offices ends March 9, but for those in which a sitting incumbent is neither seeking re-election nor termed out, filing ends March 14. At this point, for seats that cover portions of Orange County, the March 14 deadline appears to apply to CD-39, CD-49, State Treasurer, Board of Equalization, and County Board of Education Trustee Area 5.)

Six of the seven Republicans live in the 39th District.  The sole exception is Sarega, whose entire city of La Mirada is in the 38th District, which is represented by Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-Whittier).

As a Brea Councilman, Vargas represents 24,000 of CD-49’s 368,000 voters, or 6.5% of all CD-49 voters.  Currently a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve, Vargas was first elected to the Brea City Council in 1998.  He was defeated for re-election in 2002.  He subsequently lost bids to the return to the Council in 2006, 2010, and 2012.  In 2014, Brea voters finally returned Vargas to the City Council for a second term.  Vargas’s Council seat is up for election in November, so if he made the top two in the CD-39 race, voters would fill his Council seat in the regular election, but if he failed to make the top two, he could choose to run for re-election to the City Council.

While the City of Brea is small, it has punched above its weight before.  There was a pair of Brea school board members who served together in 1992-1994 when one was finishing up her last two years on the school board while the other was starting his first two years on the school board.  One went on to serve six years on the City Council (1994-2000) while the other went on to serve six years on the Board of Supervisors (1996-2002).  Both went on to serve three terms as Republican members of the State Assembly: Lynn Daucher and Todd Spitzer.

Vargas worked on Spitzer’s Supervisorial staff from 1998-2000.  Vargas lost his 2010 election bid to the City Council by 461 votes to Brett Murdock (D-Brea).  Vargas would return the favor by being one of the three candidates who unseated Mayor Murdock from the Council in 2014.  Murdock is now running for District Attorney against Spitzer and incumbent Tony Rackauckas, whom Vargas has endorsed.

Posted in 39th Congressional District, Brea | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

BOE: Cavecche & Bilodeau Exploring Candidacies

Posted by Chris Nguyen on January 12, 2018

Carolyn Cavecche & Denis Bilodeau

Carolyn Cavecche and Denis Bilodeau

With Board of Equalization Chairwoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) ending her BOE re-election bid in order to run for the 49th Congressional District seat after Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) announced his decision not to seek re-election, former and current elected officials across Orange, San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial Counties are contemplating whether to launch bids to replace Harkey in the massive BOE district that covers 1/4 of California’s population.

Multiple sources inform OC Political that Orange County Taxpayers Association President and CEO Carolyn Cavecche (R-Orange) is examining whether she will launch a bid for BOE, the nation’s only elected tax board, since Harkey switched to CD-49.  Cavecche previously won a 2001 special election and 2002 regular election to the Orange City Council and then won three elections for Mayor of Orange in 2006, 2008, and 2010, terming out as Mayor in 2012.  Cavecche would bring a formidable ballot designation of “Taxpayer Association President,” “Taxpayer Association CEO,” or “Taxpayer Advocate.”  Harkey used “Taxpayer Advocate/Assemblywoman” as her ballot designation and defeated former Assemblymembers Van Tran and Shirley Horton.  My long-ago former employer, George Runner, won a hotly-contested BOE race in 2010 with a 10% margin of victory, using “Senator/Taxpayer Advocate” as his ballot designation, defeating Acting Equalization Board Member (and former Assemblywoman) Barbara Alby and former Assemblyman Alan Nakanishi.

Sources have also stated that Orange County Water District Board Member Denis Bilodeau (R-Orange) is pursuing a slate mailer strategy for the BOE race since Harkey switched to CD-49.  Bilodeau won two elections to the Orange City Council in 2006 and 2010, terming out of the Council in 2014.  He also won five elections to represent Orange, Villa Park, and portions of Tustin on the water board in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016.  Bilodeau is also Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson’s Chief of Staff.  Bilodeau is reportedly making slate reservations for BOE, following the strategy that put Businessman/Corporate Controller Claude Parrish into the BOE seat in 1998.  Both of his successors, Michelle Steel and Diane Harkey, also used an aggressive slate strategy.

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.

The four most recent people to have held this seat and their current positions are:

Harkey and Steel used the combined ballot designation and slates strategy to win the seat. In 2014, Harkey bought up most of the slates and used a ballot designation of “Taxpayer Advocate/Assemblywoman” to defeat former Assemblymembers Van Tran and Shirley Horton after forcing Senator Mark Wyland out of the race.  In 2006, Steel used a ballot designation of “Equalization Boardmember’s Deputy” and bought up most of the slates to defeat Assemblyman Ray Haynes.

With Cavecche holding down the best ballot designation, if Bilodeau does hoover up all the slates, this will be the most closely-contested BOE race since 1998.  Lacking a great ballot designation in 1998, Parrish bought up every possible slate to defeat the formidable ballot designation of “Equalization Boardmember’s Deputy” Craig Wilson.  Parrish beat Wilson by a tiny margin of 0.7%.

Posted in Board of Equalization, Orange, Orange County Water District | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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.

Posted in 39th Congressional District, 49th Congressional District, 4th Supervisorial District, Board of Equalization | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Quirk-Silva Denies Supervisorial Run in Response to Our Story: “Breaking News: Quirk-Silva to Run for Supervisor, Husband for Assembly”

Posted by Chris Nguyen on January 10, 2018

9:46 PM update: Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva denies our story, tweeting: “A lot of discussion about Congressional Seat 39, and 4th District Supervisor Seat, in OC.I am honored to get so many requests to run for Congress or Supervisor. A blog just posted false information that I am s [sic] candidate for Supervisor. I am running for re-election to

Reacting to this denial, two of our sources continue to insist that Quirk-Silva made a number of phone calls to potential donors and potential endorsers today about a Supervisorial run.

10:19 PM update: AD-65 challenger Alexandria Coronado responded to Quirk-Silva’s tweet: “it’s good 2 know u stand by your terrible gas tax vote, and want another 2 years to vote more – I am going to change that! ” and “Assembly, Congress, Supervisor, or any office you run for – the taxpayers will hold you responsible!

Original story below:


Sharon Quirk-Silva

Sharon Quirk-Silva

Multiple sources report to OC Political that Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) is preparing to launch a bid for Fourth District Supervisor to succeed the termed out Shawn Nelson (R-Fullerton), who announced yesterday that he is running for the 39th Congressional District seat held by Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), who announced his retirement unexpectedly on Monday.  Quirk-Silva is entering the Fourth Supervisorial District race after former Assemblywoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton) left the race yesterday in order to run for Royce’s seat.  Former Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) also entered the race for Royce’s seat yesterday.

No word yet on whether Quirk-Silva will clear the field of other Democrats running for Fourth District Supervisor: former firefighters’ union president Joe Kerr, La Habra Councilwoman Rose Espinoza, and La Habra School Board Member Cynthia Aguirre.  La Habra Mayor Tim Shaw remains the sole Republican candidate, but rumors abound of other potential Republican candidates.

Fewer (but still multiple) sources also report that Councilman Jesus Silva (D-Fullerton) will run to replace his wife in the 65th Assembly District.  Silva’s council seat expires in 2020, so if he wins the AD-65 swing seat, the Fullerton Council will appoint his replacement, but if he loses the AD-65 race, then he remains on the Council for at least two more years.  Former Orange County Board of Education President Dr. Alexandria Coronado (R-Cypress) is the only Republican running for AD-65.

Posted in 39th Congressional District, 4th Supervisorial District, 65th Assembly District | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Breaking News: Shawn Nelson to Take on Young Kim for CD-39 Republican Mantle

Posted by Chris Nguyen on January 9, 2018

Cross-posted to OC Daily…

Shawn Nelson

Shawn Nelson

Less than 36 hours after Congressman Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) unexpectedly announced his retirement after 13 terms in Congress, there are now two major Republican candidates to succeed him in the 39th Congressional District: former Assemblywoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton) who announced her bid early tonight and Supervisor Shawn Nelson (R-Fullerton) who announced his bid late tonight to City News Service.

As OC Political noted this morning in our analysis of potential candidates for CD-39:

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.

Conventional wisdom would have Republicans coalesce behind one candidate.  However, with the top-two primary, having both Kim and Nelson could work (assuming that obscure La Mirada Councilman Andrew Sarega pulls out and perennial candidate John Cullum does not jump in; I would note La Mirada is not in CD-39).

In CD-31 in 2012, with four Democrats and two Republicans running, the top-two primary allowed Congressman Gary Miller and State Senator Bob Dutton to advance to an all-Republican run-off in a tough swing seat.  In CD-39 in 2018, there are currently six Democrats running.

Posted in 39th Congressional District | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Breaking News: Young Kim Enters CD-39 Race with Royce Endorsement

Posted by Chris Nguyen on January 9, 2018

Young Kim

Young Kim

Cross-posted to OC Daily…

Less than 36 hours after Congressman Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) unexpectedly announced his retirement after 13 terms in Congress, former Assemblywoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton) has entered the race to succeed Royce and dropped out of the race to succeed termed out Supervisor Shawn Nelson (R-Fullerton).

As OC Political noted this morning in our analysis of potential candidates for CD-39:

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).

The switch to Congress was so quick that Kim’s campaign committee does not yet have a Federal Election Commission (FEC) ID number, as seen by the disclaimer at the bottom of her web site:

Paid for by Young Kim for Congress. FEC ID# C00XXXXXX

In endorsing Kim, Royce said:

“We have an opportunity to elect an outstanding community leader to Congress – Young Kim. I can attest to Young’s dedication and abilities because she worked for me for almost 20 years, serving as a key advisor and community liaison. She knows our district, its people and its needs. She is a tireless and dedicated public servant. In Congress, Young will be an effective voice for middle class families and for policies that keep our country secure, grow jobs and increase economic opportunities for the people of our 39th district.”

The question now is: will Kim clear the field of any other Republicans, or will another formidable Republican jump in?  Conventional wisdom would have Republicans coalesce behind one candidate.  However, with the top-two primary, there is a scenario where two Republican candidates could work well.

In CD-31 in 2012, with four Democrats and two Republicans running, the top-two primary allowed Congressman Gary Miller and State Senator Bob Dutton to advance to an all-Republican run-off in a tough swing seat.  In CD-39 in 2018, there are currently six Democrats running.

Posted in 39th Congressional District, 4th Supervisorial District | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

CD-39: Which Republican Will Run for Ed Royce’s Seat?

Posted by Chris Nguyen on January 9, 2018

Cross-posted to OC Daily…

Congressman Ed Royce (R-Fullerton)

Congressman Ed Royce (R-Fullerton)

A political earthquake shook Orange County yesterday afternoon when Congressman Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) unexpectedly announced that he would not be running for re-election this year.  First elected to the California State Senate in 1982 and to the United States House of Representatives in 1992, Royce is the longest currently-serving elected official in partisan office in Orange County (and the third-longest currently-serving elected official in the County as a whole*).

There is a running joke in political circles that there must be Royce is secretly twins or triplets because of his ability to be in two or three places at once in his district.  Royce always kept a jam-packed calendar whenever he was returned to the district from Washington, DC.  His hard work in the district managed to allow him to win by double-digit margins in this swing district.  He developed his work ethic from his first election when he won a swing seat in the State Senate.  In every campaign for re-election to Congress, Royce would set up one of the largest campaign apparatuses in Orange County.  Royce also currently has the largest campaign warchest in Orange County, standing at $3.5 million.

So significant is Royce’s strength in the district that when he announced his retirement yesterday, the Cook Political Report moved CD-39 from “Leans Republican” to “Leans Democrat” skipping the “Toss Up” label entirely.

With the unexpected retirement of Royce, an Orange County political institution for over a quarter of a century, North Orange County and Southern Los Angeles County politicians (and perhaps some Chino Hills politicians) from both parties are scrambling to determine if they can run a viable campaign for this seat and if they’re willing to give up their existing seats in 2018.  While six Democrats were challenging Royce for CD-39, none have ever held elected office, so Democrats in elected office in CD-39 are now likely examining the chance to go for an unexpectedly open CD-39.  No Republican elected official was looking at CD-39 since Royce was expected to run for re-election.  Today, let’s look at the Republicans:

Shawn Nelson, Michelle Steel, Bob Huff, Phillip Chen, Ling-Ling Chang, Young Kim

Supervisor Shawn Nelson, Supervisor Michelle Steel, Former Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, Assemblyman Phillip Chen, Former Assemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang, Former Assemblywoman Young Kim

  • 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.(The Supervisor who represents the second largest chunk of CD-39 behind Nelson is LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn, representing 82,000 CD-39 voters, or 22% of the district.  Considering that Hahn just left a safe Democratic Congressional district in 2016 to run for Supervisor, there is zero chance she runs for this seat.  Todd Spitzer, Curt Hagman, Hilda Solis, and Michelle Park Steel split the remainder, and no one expects Spitzer, Hagman, or Solis to run for this seat.)
  • Supervisor Michelle Park Steel is well-known in the large Korean-American community in CD-39 as well as in the district’s large Asian-American community.  She represented the Orange County and San Bernardino County portions of CD-39 when she won two elections to the State Board of Equalization.  Additionally, she is one of Orange County’s most prolific fundraisers and would have little trouble raising the significant sums of money needed to wage a campaign in one of the nation’s top swing seats.  (Of course, millions of dollars will pour into this seat on both sides, from IEs/SuperPACs, DCCC, NRCC, DNC, RNC, but it always helps when the candidate can raise significant sums.)  To run for CD-39, Steel would have to abandon her bid for re-election to the 2nd Supervisorial District, setting off a scramble for that seat.
  • 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.
  • Assemblyman Phillip Chen represents 61% of CD-39 voters, with 225,000 of the 367,000 CD-39 voters also residing in AD-55.  Prior to his election to the Assembly, Chen won two elections to Diamond Bar’s Walnut Valley School Board.  Chen raised several hundred thousand dollars in his unsuccessful 2014 bid for AD-55 and his successful 2016 bid for AD-55.  However, Chen would be giving up a safe Assembly seat for a swing seat in Congress.  Chen is an Assemblyman because his predecessor gave up this safe Assembly seat for a swing seat in the State Senate.  Chen switching to CD-39 would also set off a scramble for AD-55.
  • Speaking of Chen’s predecessor, former Assemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang represented the same 61% of CD-39 that Chen does.  71% of CD-39 voters may recall Chang’s bid for SD-29 in 2016, when she narrowly lost to now-Senator Josh Newman.  Before her 2014 election to the Assembly, Chang won one election to the Walnut Valley Water Board and two elections to the Diamond Bar City Council.  She raised several hundred thousand dollars in her successful 2014 bid for AD-55 and a whopping $3 million in her unsuccessful 2016 bid for SD-29.  Chang grew up in Diamond Bar and is a graduate of Diamond Bar High School.  Chang is currently in the midst of her bid to be the replacement if Newman is recalled on June 5.  If Chang switched to the Congressional race, it would leave Fullerton Councilman Bruce Whitaker the leading Republican replacement candidate for Newman.  While legally possible to run in both the recall and the Congressional race, it is politically impossible to do so.
  • 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).

Let the games begin!

 

*The longest-serving elected official currently in office in Orange County is Orange County Water District Director Phil Anthony was elected to the Westminster City Council in 1962, Mayor in 1972, County Supervisor in 1976, and water board in 1981, where he’s been ever since.  In second place is Westminster Councilwoman Margie Rice, who was elected to the School Board in 1977, City Council in 1994, Mayor in 2000, and back to the City Council in 2012.

A notable mention is Coast Community College District Trustee Jerry Patterson was elected to the Santa Ana City Council in 1968, Mayor in 1972, and Congress in 1974, but he had a hiatus from elected office from 1984 (when he lost his Congressional seat to Bob Dornan) to 2000 (when he won his current college board seat).  Patterson was elected before Rice and Royce, but his long hiatus places him behind them for years in office.

Posted in 39th Congressional District | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Judicial Campaigns: LA Deputy DA Jumps into Nelson-Yellin Race; Defeated HB City Attorney McGrath Jumps into Wagner-Zicbeck Race

Posted by Chris Nguyen on February 17, 2016

In a fascinating turn of events that will assuredly cause a run-off election, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Thuy Dinh Pham (who is an Orange County resident despite working for LA County) has entered the race for Superior Court Judge Office No. 40, which currently includes Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson and Orange County Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin, who is the immediate past president of the Orange County attorneys union.  Former Huntington Beach City Attorney Jennifer McGrath has entered the race for Superior Court Judge Office No. 3, which currently includes Deputy District Attorneys Megan Wagner and Scott Zidbeck.

Office No. 40 – Nelson, Yellin, and Now Pham

Pham’s entry adds a female Vietnamese-American prosecutor to a race already featuring a prosecutor and a County Supervisor, both white men.  In the June primary, Pham will presumably draw the lion’s share of the high-propensity Vietnamese-American vote.  As the only woman on the ballot, Pham will also draw a significant portion of the women’s vote, though she is hampered by the fact that not all voters know Thuy is a woman’s name.  Her entry into the race deals the biggest blow to Yellin since the Deputy District Attorney vote will be split between Pham and Yellin.

Supervisor Shawn Nelson should come in first in June for Office No. 40, but in a race with three major candidates, it is unlikely he can break 50% in the primary, thereby causing a November run-off.  The question is who comes in second: Yellin or Pham?  With identical ballot designations, demographics could become a factor.  Their ballot statements will also play a role.  Will Pham describe her prosecutorial career without mentioning it has been in the LA County DA’s office or will she highlight that fact to try to capitalize on the negative publicity surrounding the Orange County DA’s office?  Pham’s entry has made a contentious race for Judge a complete toss-up.

Office No. 3 – Wagner, Zidbeck, Stein, Philips, and Now McGrath

McGrath has joined, by far, Orange County’s largest field of candidates for Superior Court Judge, which already includes Deputy District Attorneys Wagner and Zidbeck, along with attorneys Andrew Stein and Wayne Philips.

In 2014, McGrath was defeated in her bid for a fourth term as the elected Huntington Beach City Attorney in 2014, losing 56%-44% against Michael Gates.  While she brings the most elected experience of any candidates, she faces a steep uphill battle against two prosecutors, and her name ID outside of Huntington Beach is likely as poor as that of Philips or Stein.  McGrath likely comes in a strong third though due to her Huntington Beach name ID, her ballot statement presumably touting her experience, and the fact that she is one of only two women in the five-person race.

Wagner and Zidbeck should take the top two spots.  Who gets first and who gets second is tougher to predict but largely irrelevant since both would make the November run-off.  With five candidates in the race, including two prosecutors, it is highly unlikely there would not be a run-off.

Wagner is married to Assemblyman Don Wagner.  In 2014, Stein lost a run-off for Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles County against prosecutor Tom Griego.

Fascenelli Out

It appears attorney Fred Fascenelli has not filed the Declaration of Intention form required for candidates for Superior Court Judge by yesterday’s deadline, so he will not be able to continue the filing process for either Office No. 3 or Office No. 40, both of which he had previously pulled papers for.  Fascenelli is married to Villa Park Councilwoman Diana Fascenelli.

All Quiet for Office No. 49 – Murray vs. Martin

In the race for Superior Court Judge Office No. 49, unless one of the candidates fails to complete filing, it will be a head-to-head race between Deputy District Attorney Mike Murray and attorney Thomas E. Martin.

Posted in Orange County | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Shawn Nelson Launches Bid for Superior Court Judge

Posted by Chris Nguyen on February 9, 2016

Shawn NelsonYesterday, Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson (R-Fullerton) filed the initial candidacy papers and paid the filing fee to run for Superior Court Judge Office Number 40, held by the retiring Steve Perk (R-Rancho Santa Margarita). Orange County attorneys’ union head Larry Yellin (D-Mission Viejo) had filed the initial candidacy papers and paid the filing fee for the same seat last week.  Litigation Attorney Fred Fascenelli (R-Villa Park) has also pulled papers for both this judicial seat and Superior Court Judge Office Number 3.

For years, Nelson had been rumored to be interested in a judgeship.  In May 2015, he confirmed his intent to seek a judgeship in an interview with the Voice of OC.

The mystery had been when Nelson would run, with speculation running the gamut, including a 2018 bid for judge, an appointment by the Governor, or being one of the replacement candidates if the recall effort against Judge M. Marc Kelly had qualified.

Nelson has $162,832 remaining in his Supervisorial account, all of which could be transferred into an account for judge.  A Senior Deputy District Attorney, Yellin just opened his account for judge last month. However, the union he heads, the Orange County Attorneys Association, has $262,132 in its campaign accounts, though certainly, OCAA is not going to spend the majority of its treasury on a single judicial race when it’s top priority in spending will be County races.

Besides OCAA, Yellin is also endorsed by the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA), which is the County’s largest union, and the Association of Orange County Deputy District Attorneys (AOCDDA), which is the County prosecutors’ union. AOCDDA has a modest $20,843 in its coffers.  OCEA has $312,372, but certainly has other priorities, particularly since Yellin is not a member of OCEA.  It’s entirely possible the unions largely stay out of the race under the argument that they’d rather have Nelson off the Board of Supervisors.

If Fascenelli decides to file in for judicial Office Number 3 instead of judicial Office Number 40, his opponents in that seat would be prosecutors Megan Wagner (R-Irvine) and Scott Zidbeck (R-Laguna Niguel).  Fascenelli is married to Villa Park Councilwoman Diana Fascenelli while Wagner is married to Assemblyman Don Wagner.

Fred Fascenelli came in fourth in a bid for judge in 2014, winning 6.1% of the vote, coming in behind Assistant District Attorney Kevin Haskins (49.1%), Deputy Attorney General KC Jones (33.4%), and Attorney Thomas E. Martin (11.4%).  Haskins (R-Laguna Niguel) and Jones (D-Orange) advanced to a November run-off, which Haskins won with 57.9% of the vote.   This year, Martin (R-Rancho Santa Margarita) has pulled papers for judicial Office Number 49 to run against Senior Deputy District Attorney Mike Murray (R-Tustin) for the seat being held by Elaine Streger (R-Mission Viejo).

If Nelson were to defeat Yellin (and assuming Fascenelli or another third candidate doesn’t cause a run-off), the special election to fill the remaining two years of Nelson’s term representing the Fourth Supervisorial District could be either consolidated with the November 2016 general election or be a standalone special election in late February 2017 or early March 2017, depending on the timing of Nelson’s exit from the Board.

There are no campaign contribution limits for judge.

Posted in 4th Supervisorial District, Orange County | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

CD-46: Two Democrats Pull Papers as Republicans

Posted by Chris Nguyen on January 13, 2016

46th Congressional DistrictBizarrely, two recent Democrats have pulled papers to run as Republicans in the 46th Congressional District race to replace Loretta Sanchez, who is running for the United States Senate.  No other Republicans have pulled papers, though Irvine Councilwoman Lynn Schott has opened a committee.

One is Louie A. Contreras who was the Democratic nominee for the 41st District attempting to unseat Congressman Jerry Lewis in 2006, winning only 32.7% of the vote.  Contreras ran unsuccessfully for La Habra City Council in 2008, winning 3.0% to come in 8th out of 8 candidates.

The other is Rudy Gaona who was the Democrat who won just 16.5% of the vote in 2014 in a head-to-head race against Supervisor Shawn Nelson; Gaona was actually endorsed by the Democratic Party of Orange County in his race against Nelson.  Gaona has run unsuccessfully for Anaheim City Council twice, winning 5.6% of the vote to come in 8th out of 9 candidates in 2012 and 2.2% of the vote to come in 14th out of 14 candidates in 2010.

With three major Democrats (former Senator Lou Correa, former Senator Joe Dunn, and Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen) and only Schott in the race, Schott would have easily made the run-off.  However, with Contreras and Gaona jumping in the race, they could siphon off enough of the Republican vote to enable the top two Democrats (likely Correa and Dunn or Correa and Nguyen) to advance to November without a Republican.

In the 2014 primary, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez captured 50.6% of the vote against three Republicans: Lake Forest Councilman Adam Nick squeaked into the run-off with 18.1% of the vote, Accountant John Cullum captured 14.2%, and Businessman Carlos Vazquez got 12.5% (an obscure Democrat, Ehab Atalla, got 4.6%).

If Schott, Contreras, and Gaona split the Republican vote like in 2014, then it is likely two Democrats would advance to November.  (55.2% divided by three is 18.4% if miraculously Correa, Dunn, and Nguyen split the vote evenly; if two of them are remotely competitive and the third is not, the top two would go much higher and get to the run-off more easily.)  Additionally, Democratic turnout is higher in presidential primaries (like 2016) than in gubernatorial primaries (like 2014), so Democrats should be an even higher proportion of turnout in 2016 than 2014.

The 46th Congressional District covers all of Santa Ana, the flatlands of Anaheim, western Orange, and small portions of Garden Grove.

(Pulling out my Nguyen disclaimer: I am not related to Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen.  The last name Nguyen is held by 36% of Vietnamese people.)

Posted in 46th Congressional District | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »