OC Political

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

Posts Tagged ‘Will Johnson’

OC’s Worst Ballot Designations, 2020 Primary Edition

Posted by Chris Nguyen on February 28, 2020

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

A unique animal in California elections law is the ballot designation.  Those are the three words the appear under non-presidential candidates’ names on the ballot (I will note, there are a handful of exceptions that allow more than three words).  For every voter, it’s the last thing they see about a candidate before casting their ballots.  For a frighteningly high number of voters, it’s the only thing they see about a candidate before casting their ballots in low-profile races.

Consequently, ballot designations may well be the most important words in a race, with campaigns even filing lawsuits over ballot designations every election.

In many previous elections, OC Political has written about the worst ballot designations on the ballot.  These are the candidates who truly squandered a small, but very important, opportunity to communicate with the voters.

OC’s Ten Worst Ballot Designations

  1. Caregiver/Driver (Will Johnson in the 46th Congressional District)
    The reverse version of this ballot designation (“Driver/Caregiver”) for this exact same candidate in this exact same office actually made the 2018 primary election list of “OC’s Worst Ballot Designations” as the second-worst designation behind only “Carpenter/Boxing Coach.”  With no Carpenter/Boxing Coach on the ballot this time, “Caregiver/Driver” takes the top slot.  To quote the 2018 list: “What special skills does a driver bring to being a Member of Congress? While caregivers provide a very important service, what does that service have to do with being a Congressional Representative?”
  2. Mother/Automation Director (Naz Hamid in the 68th District Democratic Central Committee)
    When running for the Central Committee of the party that bills itself as being the party of labor and working people, I can’t imagine why people wouldn’t vote for an automation director.  Nothing says putting people out of work like an automation director.
  3. Student/Campaign Coordinator (Kalvin Alvarez in the 74th District Democratic Central Committee)
    As I’ve said in previous editions of “OC’s Worst Ballot Designations,” the voters do not vote for students.  They prefer candidates who are not still in school.  Every time someone complains when I put “Student” on the list, their candidate loses.  Plenty of young people have won office: not one of them has used “Student” as their ballot designation even when they are students.
  4. Handyman (Bobby Florentz in the 65th District Republican Central Committee)
    What unique skills does a handyman bring when running for office?  I mean I guess he’s helpful if you have a wobbly table or flickering light at Central Committee that needs fixing.
  5. Teacher’s Assistant (Jalen Dupree McLeod in the 47th Congressional District)
    Teacher’s assistants perform a valuable job.  However, in picking candidates for office, I feel the voters would prefer the actual teacher rather than the teacher’s assistant.  It’s especially tough when you’re challenging a sitting member of Congress from your own political party.
  6. Risk Professional (Sudi Farokhnia in the 73rd District Democratic Central Committee)
    Oh, yes, that’s what everyone wants for Central Committee: a risk professional.  Who doesn’t love insurance?  While an important job, this profession does not bring warm, fuzzy feelings to anyone.  For those few voters who know what Central Committee is, I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to have someone who will fret about insurance for precinct walkers and phone bankers.
  7. Legal Clerk (Ariana Arestegui in the 69th District Democratic Central Committee)
    Unless you’re the Orange County Clerk-Recorder or running for that office, a clerk ballot designation just isn’t going to get the job done.  While legal clerks perform an important role, life is unfair, and the voters have little respect for the position.
  8. Filmmaker (Andrew Gallagher in the 74th District Democratic Central Committee)
    Are you Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, James Cameron, or another famed filmmaker?  If not, you should not use “Filmmaker” as your ballot designation.  What special skills does a filmmaker bring to the table?  Maybe if voters knew what Central Committee is, they might like you for your potential ability to make TV campaign commercials, but unfortunately, most voters don’t know what Central Committee is.  (It may be unfair to you, and it was after you’d already picked your designation, but it doesn’t help people are getting sick of Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer’s commercials.)
  9. Life Skills Coach (Michael Navarro in the 55th District Republican Central Committee)
    While many people joke about Central Committee members needing life skills coaching, I don’t think the electorate has any particular reason to back a life skills coach for office.
  10. Psychotherapist (Anne Cameron in the 73rd District Democratic Central Committee)
    How bad are your Central Committee meetings getting when you need a psychotherapist?  Why would a voter want to vote for a psychotherapist for office?  So the psychotherapist can make the other candidates feel better?

(Dis)Honorable Mention

This ballot designation was subpar, but it wasn’t bad enough to make the list of worst ballot designations.  However, this poor soul probably should have realized sometimes politics is about timing. For some of us, the name you’re born with (or the name you marry into) just brings unfair problems beyond your control.  (I am not unsympathetic to this, having had numerous misspellings and mispronunciations of my last name of Nguyen.)  For the candidate below, this is probably a good name when running for Republican Central Committee.  However, in running for Democratic Central Committee, I think it may have been wise to wait until 2024 to run:

  • Mary Tromp, Retired Computer Programmer (72nd District Democratic Central Committee)

Posted in 46th Congressional District, 47th Congressional District, Democrat Central Committee, Republican Central Committee | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

OC’s Worst Ballot Designations, 2018 Primary Edition

Posted by Chris Nguyen on June 1, 2018

Ballot designations are the only piece of information that appear directly on the ballot other than a candidate's name.

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

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.

In many elections, OC Political reports on the worst and best ballot designations on the ballot. Tomorrow, we’ll cover OC’s best ballot designations. Today, we’re reporting on the worst designations on OC’s primary election ballot. We are not including statewide races because there are too many ridiculous ones, the Governor’s race alone has Entrepreneur/Transhumanist Lecturer Zoltan Istvan, Puppeteer/Musician Christopher Carlson, and Marketplace Minister Jeffrey Taylor. We are only covering County seats or State/Federal districts that include OC. Without further ado:
OC’s Ten Worst Ballot Designations

I would be shocked if any of these people with truly awful ballot designations win:

  1. Carpenter/Boxing Coach (David Castellanos in the 32nd Senate District)
    What special skills does a carpenter or a boxing coach bring to being a Senator? As entertaining as it might be, it seems unwise to have legislators start boxing each other to determine if bills pass or fail.
  2. Driver/Caregiver (Will Johnson in the 46th Congressional District)
    What special skills does a driver bring to being a Member of Congress? While caregivers provide a very important service, what does that service have to do with being a Congressional Representative?
  3. Surgeon/Businessman/Artist (Robert Pendleton in the 49th Congressional District)
    What do you do for a living? Could you find three more different professions? How do you even find the time to do all these jobs?
  4. Trust Litigation Attorney (Nathaniel Fernandez Epstein in Assessor)
    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: Deputy District Attorney and US Attorney are great designations. However, some modifiers make it worse. When average voters hear “Trust Litigation Attorney,” they think “Spoiled Rich Heirs’ Attorney.”
  5. Mortgage Lender (Dan Draitser in County Board of Education Trustee Area 5)
    I don’t get warm fuzzy feelings when I think about all the paperwork I had to fill out to get my mortgage. It makes even less sense to use “Mortgage Lender” as a ballot designation when running for School Board. What does a mortgage have to do with schools? All four of his opponents wisely found education-related ballot designations.
  6. Airline Pilot (Tony Zarkades in the 48th Congressional District)
    Are you Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who piloted the Miracle on the Hudson? Are you Tammie Jo Shults who landed the Southwest flight with the engine that exploded? If you are not one of them, you should not use airline pilot as your ballot designation. What does being a pilot have to do with being in Congress? “Fighter Pilot” is a great ballot designation, but “Airline Pilot” is not. This is especially true in the 48th Congressional District where Newport Beach residents resent airline noise from John Wayne Airport.
  7. eCommerce Consultant (Kevin Carr in the 29th Senate District Recall Replacement Election)
    At a time when people are worried about data breaches from big Internet companies, eCommerce Consultant doesn’t exactly instill trust.
  8. IT Project Manager (Ed Rushman in the 46th Congressional District)
    What does an IT Project Manager bring to the table in running for Congress?
  9. Licensed Investment Professional (Kevin Kensinger in the 48th Congressional District)
    Nothing warms the hearts of the electorate like investment professionals. Think of all the movies about investment professionals: Gordon Gekko, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The Big Short. Public perception is generally negative, like for attorneys, where people dislike the profession despite their own positive experiences with their individual investment professional. Additionally, what does “Licensed” add to this? Is this assurance that he’s not a rogue, illegal investment professional?
  10. Business Investor (Scott Lebda in the 55th Assembly District)
    What exactly does an investor bring to the table in the State Assembly? Further, when has an “investor” given the electorate warm, fuzzy feelings?

(Dis)Honorable Mentions

These two ballot designations wouldn’t normally make the list of worst ballot designations. However, they get a (dis)honorable mention here because of the specific circumstances described below.

  • La Mirada City Councilman (Andrew Sarega in the 39th Congressional District)
    Ordinarily, City Councilman is a great ballot designation. However, when La Mirada is not in the 39th Congressional District, who are you trying to appeal to with “La Mirada City Councilman” as your ballot designation?
  • Budget Analyst (Cynthia Aguirre in the 4th Supervisorial District)
    “Budget Analyst” isn’t terrible or great. It’s an okay designation that would usually not make the best or worst ballot designation list. However, Aguirre is an elected school board member in the La Habra City School District. If you are an elected School Board Member, why would you not use “School Board Member” as your ballot designation? That is a much stronger designation when running for office.

Posted in 29th Senate District, 32nd Senate District, 46th Congressional District, 48th Congressional District, 49th Congressional District, 4th Supervisorial District, 55th Assembly District, Orange County Assessor, Orange County Board of Education | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »