Every once in a while I get someone saying to me, “Yeah, but does Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang really have a chance against John Campbell in the new CD-45?” My answer is usually along the lines of: “I don’t know whether he should, given the numbers, but Sukhee’s a smart and competent moderate and Campbell’s a really bad and lazy candidate. Given that this is a new electorate for Campbell, who knows?”
It turns out that the Orange County Republican Party has its own reservations about the Rep from Irvine. An insurance broker named John Webb got just enough votes to deny the incumbent the endorsement.
From an OC Young Democrats press release of this afternoon:
The Republican Orange County Central Committee (OCGOP) rejected the endorsement of Republican incumbent Congressman John Campbell yesterday at their early endorsement meeting. John Campbell was the only incumbent who faced a challenger at yesterday’s meeting and the only candidate not to be endorsed.
John Campbell received 41 of 63 votes from central committee members, missing the 2/3 threshold for endorsement by one vote.
Attendees at the meeting described the vote as a “powerful moment,” noting that individuals stood up in front of the Congressman to cast their no votes in person.
This is the first time the OCGOP has refused to endorse John Campbell for Congress, an indication that his party support has erroded significantly in the past two years.
In total 22 people stood up to vote no on endorsing the incumbent Congressman.
“John Campbell has become such a part of the problem in Washington that he can’t even get support from Republicans in his own backyard,” said Melissa Stern, Political Director for OCYD, “Campbell’s shameful record, including being one of only two votes to protect legal insider stock trading for members of Congress, should cause concern for every Orange County voter.”
The Register’s Total Buzz noted that it seems to have been Campbell’s 2008 support for the TARP vote, rather than the standard eye-popping support for insider trading here in 2012, that seems to be turning off Republicans, but even so: this is unexpected. It’s sort of like Loretta Sanchez not getting the Democratic party’s nomination in CD-46 against, oh, Paco Barragan. Could happen, I guess; it would be a big surprise, though.
For the record, GOP Chair Scott Baugh pronounces thusly:
John Campbell has been one of the most courageous and tenacious opponents of earmarks and other abusive government spending,” Baugh said. “He enjoys considerable support among rank-and-file Republicans. There are a number of people who are still upset about the TARP vote but I’m confident they will support him in November.
Indeed, Campbell is a tenacious opponent of earmarks — generally refusing to seek them for what is his wealthy current district. That played well in Newport Beach — which will no longer be part of his district. Will his “we don’t need your government money!” routine play well in Irvine, Tustin, Orange, Villa Park, Anaheim Hills, Laguna Woods, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, and Coto de Caza? It’s a stringent position that takes some getting used to.
I wonder how “courageous” he’ll remain when under fire in front of an entirely new audience. I haven’t spoken to him about this race at all, but I’ll bet that Mayor Kang already has some ideas about that.