Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez (D) has joined convicted ketchup thief Steve Rocco (NPP) in pulling papers to challenge the re-election bid of Supervisor Andrew Do (R). Additionally, the enigmatic Robert Bao Nguyen has also pulled papers to challenge Do’s re-election bid in the First Supervisorial District, which consists of Santa Ana, Garden Grove, Westminster, Midway City, and northern Fountain Valley.
Martinez clearly wasn’t planning a challenge to Do until recently, as she still doesn’t have a campaign account for Supervisor open, and her City Council account had $8.16 in it as of December 31. No, that’s not a typo: she had eight dollars and sixteen cents. If she had a campaign meeting at Denny’s, she wouldn’t even be able to buy the $8.99 Moons Over My Hammy with her Council account. The good news for her is she has no loans or unpaid bills, so she has the $8.16 free and clear.
Even if she is depending on independent expenditures to assist her in a bid against Do, IEs alone cannot power a campaign. The candidate has to have some funds available. Additionally, most IEs like to see candidates be able to give themselves self-help before the IEs will intervene, particularly when a challenger is seeking to unseat an incumbent.
Martinez is clearly the Democrats’ last-minute replacement candidate, as Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Vince Sarmiento (D) had been exploring a run for Supervisor for quite some time, even opening a campaign committee for Supervisor on January 8 (interestingly, an IE PAC supporting Sarmiento for Supervisor opened on January 7).
By entering the 2016 race against Do, Martinez continues her decade-long streak of alternating between bids for higher office and bids for re-election:
- In 2006, Martinez won her bid for City Council with 32.6% of the vote in a four-way race, narrowly edging Republican Evangeline Gawronski, who got 30.2% of the vote.
- In 2008, Martinez made an ill-fated bid to unseat Mayor Miguel Pulido, who crushed her 55.0%-29.3% in a four-way race.
- In 2010, Martinez was unopposed for re-election.
- In 2012, Martinez won only 16.7% of the vote for the open 69th Assembly District seat, coming in second-to-last out of five candidates.
- In 2014, she won 52.0% of the vote in a four-way race in her bid for a third term on the City Council.
Martinez raised $31,108 in her 2014 re-election bid for Council. Do reported $113,786 cash-on-hand at the end of 2015. Rocco has never raised money in any of his numerous bids for office.
Awkwardly, the same day that Martinez pulled papers against Do, CBS 2/KCAL 9 ran a story entitled, “On Average, 1 Shooting Reported Each Day In Santa Ana In 2016.” It’s safe to assume the campaign of former prosecutor Do will highlight the rising crime in Martinez’s city.
Convicted ketchup thief Steve Rocco, a former Orange Unified School District Trustee, pulled papers in early January and completed filing on Tuesday. He is running as “Retired Educator/Writer” on the ballot.
Curiously, on Wednesday, the enigmatic Robert Bao Nguyen pulled papers to challenge Do. It is unclear if he is simply another Rocco-type running, or if there is a more sinister motive behind his candidacy, such as pulling Vietnamese American votes away from Do in an effort to force him into a November run-off against Martinez. Even the name Robert Bao Nguyen seeks to benefit from the name ID of Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen (D), who is running for Congress in the 46th District, which includes, among other places, Santa Ana and small portions of Garden Grove.
(Cue my usual Nguyen disclaimer: I am not related to the mysterious Robert Bao Nguyen nor Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen. The last name Nguyen is held by 36% of Vietnamese people.)