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The Democratic Party of Orange County Central Committmet last night with two items of business on the agenda: endorsements in non-partisan races and a resolution favoring the construction of two new lanes of traffic on the 405 and opposing toll lanes. As this story is running long, I’ll address the latter in a separate story, most likely tomorrow.
(Let me get my disclosures of declared interest out of the way first: I’m a member of the DPOC Central Committee and Executive Board. I voted in favor of endorsing McLoughlin; I abstained in the vote to endorse Benavides. I sponsored the 405 tolls resolution and contributed to its drafting, although I did neither the first nor the final draft. I’ll try to be as fair as I can here, notwithstanding all of that.)
The Carpenters Hall on Chapman Ave. in Orange was packed last night with a “who’s who” of Orange County Democratic politics, most all of whom came out for endorsements. The endorsements portion of the meeting — which has at times been controversial in recent years — was chaired by Parliamentarian Jeff LeTourneau, who hewed to the letter of the bylaws (leading him and others to comment on the need to revise some of the bylaws, which can most charitably be described as weird when put into practice.) In a sweltering room, the process went relatively smoothly, taking roughly an hour to complete despite several roll-call votes.
Most of the candidates in question (who are listed below) were passed on a “consent calendar,” endorsements for the those listed on which were passed en masse on a voice vote. Only six candidates were denied access to the consent calendar, two taken off of the list manually and two because there were two Democrats running for one position. The latter brought the most controversy.
What had been expected to be the Big Battle of the night instead turned into somewhat of a Big Fizzle. David Benavides and Miguel Pulido had both been expected to vie for the endorsement for the position of Mayor of Santa Ana. To the surprise of most delegates in the audience, however, Pulido did not attend the meeting and pulled out of the endorsement process. That left the assembly with a choice between Benavides and No Endorsement. After hearing from the Councilman (and one member twisting his arm to ensure that a favored candidate received his endorsement for I believe a community college district race), the vote was, by my unofficial cout, overwhelming. Benavides received 35 “yes” votes to 3 “no” votes, with 11 abstentions — well over the 60% threshold required.
In speaking to one seasoned veteran about the lopsided vote afterwards, I was told “the saying goes, never bet against Miguel Pulido.” Be that as it may, if one were ever to consider making an exception to that rule, this seems like a reasonable year to consider it. “35 to 3″ is pretty resounding. And with the endorsement through the consent calendar of Vince Sarmiento, Roman Reyna, and Eric Alderete for Santa Ana City Council — who along with Benavides, Sal Tinajero, and Michele Martinez form a self-declared potential six-person majority City Council coalition in opposition to Pulido should the Mayor get re-elected — the Democratic Party of Orange County has turned out to be in de facto support of the “Revolt of the Barons” against the King Manuel the Longlasting. (The most interesting question is one for which I don’t have an answer: why did Pulido abandon his attempt for endorsement?)
It was the “undercard” that led to the closer and more interesting battle. Santa Ana Vice-Mayor Claudia Alvarez was up against Mark McLoughlin, one of two incumbents redistricted into the same race, for the “Area 5″ race of the Rancho Santiago Community College District. McLoughlin, presumably the lesser-known candidate for most delegates, spoke first, giving a solid speech listing his record of activity and accomplishment both on the Board and in the broader community. He had a number of solid endorsements, the most influential of which was probably from fellow Board Member John Hanna, who was not in attendance but who had e-mailed voting members. Then came the rebuttal from Claudia Alvarez.
Here I have to admit a bias: I love watching Claudia Alvarez at work. You can see what many years of experience at figuring out how to appeal to juries can do for someone. She came up with a mischevious smile and said something along the lines of “I won’t bore you by reciting a long list of my accomplishments.” Oh, snap! That moment of jujutsu was a cunning, smooth, and nasty move. Brava! She later proclaimed, in response to her McLoughlin’s declaration of support for the DREAM Act, which benefits college students who don’t have legal status to be in the country despite long presence here: “I am the DREAM ACT!” There was more, most of it similarly rousing. God, she’s good at this.
(If Tom Daly is dragged down by scandal in AD-69, Alvarez is one of the people I’d expect might run to replace him, regardless of whether she wins in November. I don’t know if she can sing, but if she doesn’t win this election then I hope that she’d consider being part of a production of the wonderful musical Evita. She has star quality — and, unlike Eva Peron, a law degree. She’d put Madonna’s performance in the movie to shame, not that that would be so hard to do.)
Unfortunately for Alvarez, the sorts of people who are willing to be part of a party Central Committee are not the sorts who are easily bored by lists of accomplishments. We tend, instead, to value and respect them. More to the point, we actually care who gets onto a Community College board — and don’t want it to be considered a temporary sinecure from which one runs for higher office. That’s what determined my vote: McLoughlin seemed to care about responsibly performing the position, while Alvarez is presumably running for something — maybe, depending on how things turned out for her in June, maybe more than one thing — in 2014. I want someone focusing on that job, not on running for their next job. Having Jose Solorio running unopposed for the Board is already bad enough.
I don’t know if others felt the same way when they voted, but McLaughlin won the vote 21 to 11, with by my count a whopping 16 abstentions. That’s a bit over 65%; he only needed over 60%. He gets his name on party literature now, which should be a boost in November as he tries to overcome both a fellow incumbent and the well-known Alvarez.
Two other names of City Council candidates were pulled off of the consent calendar: Jane Egly of Laguna Beach and Jan Flory of Fullerton. Their treatment at the meeting was a study in contrast. Egly was pulled off of the consent calendar by people affiliated with or supporting the Laguna Beach Democratic Club for the alleged crimes of consorting with, supporting, being disproportionately available to, and disproprortionately supportive of (in votes where it mattered) Republicans. Audrey Prosser gave a virtuoso takedown of Egly, who was not present, and by the time she was done no one would even move to endorse her. Personally, I don’t know much about the merits of the charges against Egly, but as a matter of small “d” democracy and demands for deference by the grassroots, which the party granted, it was mighty impressive.
The reaction to Flory’s being pulled off of the consent calendar was diametrically opposed. Here, the local grassroots party club is the Democrats of North Orange County, whose members (of whom, interest declared, I am one) seemed to be disturbed and dismayed by having to vote on Flory’s endorsement separately. (Flory’s fellow Democrat in the race, Kitty Jaramillo, was approved on the consent calendar.)
The reason that Flory was pulled off of the calendar was — and if you’re one of our FFFF-affiliated readers, you may want to sit down before reading further — she was considered to be “soft” on the issue out outsourcing municipal services. This is possibly the Irony of the Year in Orange County politics, given that Flory is campaigning against a slate of libertarian candidates who are hell-bent on outsourcing municipal services and may be one of the most significant impediments to their success. Flory and her supporters made the best of it, using the opportunity to educate those from elsewhere in the county about the current attempted Wisconsinification of Fullerton. Irvine’s Beth Krom moved for her endorsement, which passed with only token opposition.
I think that I’ve gotten down all of the names of those endorsed as a group through the consent calendar, but this list should be taken as unofficial. More endorsements for those who didn’t get in their papers in time (including Diana Carey of Westminster, who will play a significant role in the story on the 405 resolution but was not contacted about the endorsement opportunity, and apparently some from Orange), will come in September’s meeting. Here’s that list:
- Aliso Viejo City Council: Ross Chun
- Anaheim City Council: Jordan Brandman (note: John Leos and others are ineligible, not being Democrats)
- Anaheim Unified School Board: John Santoianni and Al Jabbar
- Centralia School District: Arturo Montez
- Coast Community College Trustee: Jerry Patterson (note: other Democratic incumbents are unopposed)
- South Coast Water District: Wayne Rayfield
- Fullerton City Council: Kitty Jaramillo
- Garden Grove City Council: Kris Beard
- Garden Grove School Board: Bao Nguyen
- Huntington Beach City Council: Jill Hardy
- Irvine City Council: Beth Krom
- Irvine Mayor: Larry Agran
- Irvine Unified School Board: Paul Bokota, Cyril Yu
- Laguna Beach City Council: Verna Rollinger
- Laguna Woods Mayor: Cynthina Conners
- Orange City Council: Larry Labrado
- Rancho Santiago Community College District, Area 1: Jose Solorio
- Rancho Santiage Community College District, Area 3: Nelida Yanez
- Santa Ana City Council (in their respective wards): Vincent Sarmiento (1), Eric Alderete (3), Ramon Reyna (5)
- Sant Ana Unified School Board: Valerie Amezcua, Myriam Tinajero
- Westminster Elementary School Board: Jo-Ann Purcell
- Westminster School Board: Jamison Power
- Westminster Mayor: Penny Loomer
- Westminster City Council: Sergio Contreras
In a discussion elsewhere here, a commenter recently suggested to me that no one cares about the Democratic Party endorsements. All I can say is: I beg to differ!