Wealthy Man’s Sour on Mansoor; Finagles for Daigle


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Charles Munger as Fairy Godmother showering money on Leslie Daigle

Munger making it rain money all over Leslie Daigle's campaign.

I know that I’ve been covering lots of our North Orange County and Santa Ana races recently, but one of the most interesting races is taking place in AD-74, where Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle and Newport Beach Leslie Daigle-hater Bob Rush are taking on incumbent Allan Mansoor.

Rush is a newcomer to the Democratic Party as well as to electoral politics and many have thought that he might be playing a spoiler role, knocking the second-place Republican out of the race. That may still be the case — but there’s no assurance that he’ll finish as high as second. He has raised $111,699, but $99,999 is his own loan to the campaign and the rest is from three $3900 donations and he has spent under $10,000.

If Rush loses, he’ll still have done a great service in making the Republican candidates have to spend money in the primary when they otherwise might have agreed to a cease-fire during the primary. Rush is irked with Daigle, who he believes has been unresponsive to his concerns on the NB City Council. The question floating around has been: could Rush knock daigle out of the race? But now there’s reason to ask another question: if he gets 30-35% of the vote based on his Democratic ballot affiliation, could Rush knock Mansoor out of the race?

I wouldn’t be asking that except for one thing: a new Late Independent Expenditure (which I call a “LIE”) from wealthy and mercurial and moderate Republican political intervenor Charles Munger, whose sister Molly is also spending like a remorseless machine on her initiative to raise tax money to fund schools (but not, unlike the Governor’s/unions’ proposal, the general fund.)  Both Mungers are the children of Warren Buffet’s right-hand man, Charles Sr.

Allan Mansoor had about $115,400 in the bank at the point of his last report, two months ago. He has had $12,000 in LIEs made on his behalf, almost $10,500 from the Establishment GOP “Lincoln Club” (which is dedicated to powering the world by making the 16th President spin in his grave) and the rest from Fieldstead & Co., which is coincidentally the name of a new NBC situation comedy for next year — naw, just seeing if you were paying attention — all for slate cards and mailers. (The Republican Party of OC also spent almost $19,000 on a LIE: a slate mailer against her.)

Daigle entered the final 80 days with $108,000 in the bank, but for her the story has been an overwhelming number of LIEs. Peace officers and fire fighters spent $23,000 for a mailer in support of her, but the hugest LIEs have come from “Spirit of Democracy California,” which I’m advised is more commonly known as a life form named “Charles Munger,” chair of the moderate-libertarian Santa Clara County GOP.  Check this out:

DATE NAME POSITION AMOUNT DESCRIPTION
05/10/2012 SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY CALIFORNIA SUPPORT $25,110.91 CAMPAIGN LITERATURE AND MAILINGS
05/10/2012 SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY CALIFORNIA SUPPORT $6,499.48 CAMPAIGN LITERATURE AND MAILINGS
05/10/2012 SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY CALIFORNIA SUPPORT $7,500.00 CAMPAIGN CONSULTANTS
05/14/2012 SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY CALIFORNIA SUPPORT $180,000.00 T.V. OR CABLE AIRTIME AND PRODUCTION COSTS
05/14/2012 SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY CALIFORNIA SUPPORT $7,500.00 CAMPAIGN CONSULTANTS
05/14/2012 SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY CALIFORNIA SUPPORT $20,973.41 CAMPAIGN LITERATURE AND MAILINGS
05/15/2012 SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY CALIFORNIA SUPPORT $20,973.41 CAMPAIGN LITERATURE AND MAILINGS
05/21/2012 SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY CALIFORNIA SUPPORT $20,190.18 CAMPAIGN LITERATURE AND MAILINGS
05/21/2012 SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY CALIFORNIA SUPPORT $15,619.22 SLATE MAILERS
05/21/2012 SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY CALIFORNIA SUPPORT $21,305.58 CAMPAIGN LITERATURE AND MAILINGS
05/22/2012 SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY CALIFORNIA SUPPORT $145,000.00 T.V. OR CABLE AIRTIME AND PRODUCTION COSTS

That is one — what’s the technical term for it? — serious gob of money. $15,000 in consultants, $15,600 in slate mailers, about $115,000 in campaign literature and mailings — and $325,000 in production and airtime of TV/Cable ads. Yow!  (NOTE TO REPUBLICANS: DO NOT PISS OFF CHARLES MUNGER!)

I’m trying to figure out just what Mansoor did to make Munger go medieveal on him like this (as well as why Munger waited until maybe half of the ballots were already cast.)  I doubt that there was any single thing.  Mansoor is a caveman conservative; Daigle is an attractive representative of the GOP’s almost entirely evaporated moderate wing — who won’t owe anything to the county party and might be someone who could, amazingly for these days, be convinced to cross party lines if necessary for some vote to keep the state from self-destruction.  (She may have to check with Charles Munger first, but that’s still a step up over Mansoor.)

AD-74 is a libertarian-leaning district — the only new one covering any territory in OC — and yes, that includes not only Loretta Sanchez’s CD-46 but Linda Sanchez’s CD-38 — to have voted against Prop 8.  In fact, the real danger for Democrats of a Daigle victory is that — if she kept from being sucked entirely into the maw of the OC GOP Establishment — she could conceivably become a statewide candidate.  (I know of one Dem activist, no fan of Mansoor, who hopes that she loses precisely on that account.)

And — Bob Rush, a former No Party Preference candidate who has been a Democrat for just a few months, apparently hates her.

Here’s an interesting possibility: could conservatice Republicans decide to nip Daigle’s higher political ambitions in the but by supporting Rush over her in November — sending return fire to Charles Munger to keep his grubby mitts out of OC politics?  Rush is as good a Democrats — meaning as loosely a Democrat — as they’re going to find.  Could they decide to accept two years of him in office as the price of knocking Daigle out of the race, figuring that they could elect someone like, oh, Jim Righeimer in 2014?

I don’t see Mansoor versus Rush as being a particularly interesting race, unless Rush shows a lot more fundraising (and willingness to spend his own loan.)  Mansoor versus Daigle — that would be an expensive (presuming that Charles Munger stays at it) and interesting race.  But Daigle versus Rush — a grudge match where it’s not even sure where the Orange County money would come down?  Would Munger really spend that much to beat the also-moderate Rush?

THAT would be FASCINATING! Sorry, everyone, but I have to put considerations of political  advantage aside here.  From a pure “politics as spectator sport” perspective, I have to root for the grudge match!


About Greg Diamond

Worker's rights attorney now moving into "good governance" litigation. North Vice Chair of Democratic Party of Orange County and occasional candidate. Proud to be prolix. Unless otherwise specifically stated, his writings never speak for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. He tries to either suppress or openly acknowledge his partisan, issue, ideological, and "good government" biases in most of his writing here. If you have a question about any particular writing, just ask him about it and (unless you are an pseudonymous troll) he will probably answer you at painful length. He lives in Brea but generally doesn't blog about it. A family member works as a campaign treasurer for Wendy Gabriella in AD-73; he doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. He does advise some campaigns informally and without compensation, although in 2014 he may receive some compensation for campaign consulting and fundraising for the campaign of Jorge Lopez for Orange County Assessor.