A Day at the Races: Checking in on Who’s Taking Steps to Run for What, as of Jan. 26


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We’re about a month and a half away from the deadline to file papers to run in the June primary election, so let’s take a look at the PDF of the candidate log ocvote.com site to see how things are shaping up as of yesterday.  Who (if they follow through with their paperwork) is running for what?  Aside from Superior Court Judge races, the calendar sets the deadline for “signatures in lieu” (which reduce the filing fee) for Feb. 20; the “real” deadlines, for declarations of candidacy and nomination papers, are on March 7, with an extension to March 12 if no incumbent files for a given race.  (March 7 is a good day to go people-watching at the Registrar of Voters office as candidates trundle in at the last possible moment.)

Remember — or learn, if you didn’t know — that now there are basically four (or so) kinds of races to consider.  These are:

(1) Presidential election.  Exempt from Top-Two primary.  Partisan ballots.  Not taking place in 2014.  Ignore for now.

(2) Federal/State Legislative and State Executive.  These are subject to the “top two primary.”  That means that no one necessarily gets to run unopposed in November anymore.  If only one person is listed, and so long as there’s as little as one vote cast for someone else in a qualified write-in campaign, then that campaign goes to November runoff.  99.999% of the vote is no longer enough!

(3) County Supervisor and Executive Offices.  This works like the Top Two Primary, but with a twist.  If any candidate gets over 50% of  the vote, they win the position outright and there is no November runoff.  In races where only one or two people are running, this is pretty much a given (barring a massively successful write-in campaign.)  I think that Judicial Offices work the same way, but this would only matter in a multi-candidate race and I haven’t seen one of those here.

(4) Local officials and special boards.  City Council, school board, water district, and similar elections don’t take place until November, so don’t worry too much about them yet (although they do play into people’s current strategies!)

So, right now, we’re just looking at categories #2 and #3.  After June, we’ll be looking at #2 and #4, as well as runoffs for #3.

Note also that in races that cross county lines — the local ones now being CA-38, CA-39, CA-47, CA-49, SD-32, SD-34, SD-36, and AD-55 — one also has to look in other counties (now only LA, San Berdoo, and San Diego) to get a complete roster of who is running.  When it comes to statewide races and Board of Equalization, the County Registrar’s report includes only candidates residing (and thus filing) here.

Ready?  Let’s go!

OC Elections - unopposed incumbents

Three Countywide OC officials who have taken out papers for reelection are currently unopposed — but Mijares, Friedenrich, and Hutchens could hardly be more different in terms of the colors of their hair and their abstract backgrounds. (We figure that they’re the safest choices to feature at this early moment in the campaign.)

Governor:  OC’s report actually does have something interesting going on that you won’t find anywhere else.  While Jerry Brown and Tim Donnelly will file in other counties, Neel Kashkari — if he does end up running — will presumably file here.  (And if he somehow doesn’t, even on the last day, we would presumably know first.)  So far Robert Ornelas and Luis Rodriguez have taken out papers.

Other State Executive:  Just two from OC.  Laura Wells has taken out papers to run for State Controller, a fight that currently seems to be a showdown between Assembly Speaker John Perez and current Board of Equalization Rep Betty Yee, as well as a prominent Republican or two.  Ellen Brown has taken out papers to run for State Treasurer, a position expected to be won by current Controller John Chiang.

4th District, State  Board of Equalization:  The Orange County, San Diego, Inland Empire, and Imperial seat has one definite OC candidate, Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, and one rumored possibility, Van Tran.  John Kelly has also taken out papers here.  Mark Wyland of San Diego is also favored to make the runoff.  An Orange Countian named John Kelly has also taken out papers.  Any Dems?

38th Congressional District:  In Linda Sanchez’s district, no one from La Palma (or from elsewhere, out of the district) has taken out papers.

39th Congressional District:  Incumbent Ed Royce has not yet taken out papers for re-election, but is expected to do so.  Robert Lauten — an OJB commenter, LaRouchie, Oath Keeper, and Tea Partier (have I got that about right, Robert?) has taken out papers, as has Democrat Pete Anderson, chair of the Democrats of North Orange County club.  Celebrity candidates are still under consideration.

45th Congressional District:  We have retired military officer Greg Raths planning to run, as well as Ben McKenna and Noburu “You Will See My Name Again Below” Isugawa.  The heaviest hitters, John Moorlach and Mimi Walters, are expected to add their hats to the ring as well.

46th Congressional District:  Loretta Sanchez is expected to breeze here.  John CullumCarlos Vasquez, and Ehab Atalla have also drawn papers.

47th Congressional District:  No candidates from OC at this point.  Incumbent Alan Lowenthal is from LA County.

48th Congressional District:  Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s district is attracting a bunch of challengers to his re-election, at least two of whom warrant note.  One of them is Republican Costa Mesa Councilmember Wendy Leece, about whose entry into the race I have a story in the hopper.  Reasonably prominent Democrats include Dr, Suzanne Joyce Savary and former Loretta Sanchez staffer Robert Banuelos, one of whom I expect to support.  Also taking out papers are Robert Soloway and Robert David Burns – Banuelos clearly has to be concerned about splitting the “Robert” vote!  Oh yeah: Noburo Isugawa has taken out papers here as well.

49th Congressional District:  Rep.  Darrell Issa’s re-election will be challenged by Democrat David Peiser.  Another candidate from San Diego county has been rumored.  And then there’s Noburo Isugawa, who will eventually have to pick a district if he runs at all.

32nd State Senate District:  No Orange Countian — and only Buena Park is within this district — is running to succeed scandal-encrusted Senator Ron Calderon.  Democratic former Assemblyman Tony Mendoza seems to be the strong favorite here.

34th State Senate District:  This looks like a face-off between Democratic former Assemblyman Jose Solorio and Republican Supervisor Janet Nguyen — unless, I suppose, Janet gets involved in more explicit legal problems with Cal Optima (or whatever) than she has had so far.  Absent that, the big question may be how much the candidates spend on the primary and how much they conserve for the general election.

36th State Senate District:  This seems to be be sort of an overlooked race for now, in which Supervisor Pat Bates seems likely to face off against San Diego County former Assemblyman Martin Garrick.  No Democratic names have surfaced in this largely San Diego County district.

55th Assembly District: Yorba Linda’s Craig Young is the only Orange Countian considered to be a likely candidate here at this point, and he hasn’t yet filed.  (For one thing, he has a recall to deal with first.)  North of the Puente Hills, Walnut’s School Board member Philip Chen, and Diamond Bar City Council Members Ling-Ling Chang and Steve Tye have all indicated plans to run.  Gregg Fritchle is the most likely (read “default”) Democratic candidate here.

65th Assembly District: The marquee race in Orange County pits incumbent Democratic Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva against Ed Royce’s ex-staffer and (as I understand it) social director Young Kim.  If anyone else plans to run, I haven’t heard about it — and in a top-two primary system this is probably not the race to try to crack.

68th Assembly District:  Incumbent Republican Assemblyman Don Wagner has had one person take out papers against him: a longtime Democratic activist, psychologist Anne Cameron.

69th Assembly District:  Incumbent Democratic Assemblyman Tom Daly hasn’t taken out papers at this point, but is expected to do so.  Someone in or around Santanaheim who wants a little publicity will likely file against him.  Barring scandal, only a Democratic (most likely Latino) challenge could possibly oust him — and that doesn’t look to be in the cards this year.

72nd Assembly District: Incumbent Assemblyman Travis Allen is unlikely to face a Republican challenger this year, meaning that Joe DoVinh probably gets the chance to face off against him.  Only last cycle’s last-place finisher Albert Ayala has filed at this point — but he’s not likely to beat DoVinh.

73rd Assembly District:  This may be the most interesting legislative race in the County this year after the face-offs in AD-65 and SD-34.  On the Democratic side, moderate Wendy Gabriella has been working tirelessly and effectively.  (Note: I do have a conflict to declare here in that a family member works on her team — but I really don’t think that the previous sentence can be disputed.)  On the Republican side in this South County district, the challenge is wild and wide open.  Outgoing Assemblywoman Diane Harkey’s staffer Bill Brough is the only one who has taken out papers thus far, but Rancho Santa Margarita Councilman Jesse Petrilla, Capistrano School Board member Anna Bryson, and Laguna Niguel  Councilmember Paul Glaab are all expected to run.  The district has enough Democrats ande moderate Republicans and independents that Gabriella should make the runoff — and it’s hard to figure out how any of the other four doesn’t have a chance to make it into the other slot.  It’s doubtful that there’s room for a second Democrat to squeeze Republicans out of the runoff, but a “stunt candidate” with high name-recognition might have a chance.  Of course, it’s not like fire-breather Orly Taitz lives in the district — oh, wait, yes she does!  One could hardly script a better scenario for Taitz to make it into a top-two runoff against a Democrat.  And that would be a very interesting runoff.

74th Assembly District:  The 74th is almost as interesting (if not even more so) as the 73rd.  Councilman Matt Harper from Huntington Beach, Councilman Keith Curry from Newport Beach, and recent transplant Karina Onofre from wherever she moved to from Santa Ana have all taken out papes.  Travis Allen staffer Emanuel Patrascu is expected to do the same, and Huntington Beach’s Keith Carlson has been discussed as a candidate as well.  So far no Democrat has made noises about running — and there’s certainly an argument for letting these guys slug it out all year.  (I had thought that this might be where Wendy Leece might end up.  Without Onofre in the race to split the women’s vote, I’d think that that would be an obvious move.)

Let’s move to the County level:

Superintendent of Schools: Al Mijares is running for re-election.  I’ve heard no talk about a challenge.

2nd District, Board of Supervisors:  Democratic Coastline Community College Trustee Jim Moreno is likely to grab one spot in the runoff against  newly arrived Board of Equalization member Michelle Steel and Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, both of whom will be well-funded, but who will be competing for similar votes.  Alan Schlar has also taken out papers.

4th District, Board of Supervisors:  Part of my job with the Democratic Party is to find someone to run against incumbent Shawn Nelson in this swing district.  (Nelson hasn’t yet taken out papers.)  Any takers?

5th District, Board of Supervisors:  This is another interesting face-off, for now also without a Democrat in sight.  It’s Robert Ming vs. Frank Ury, both of whom are well-connected and have plenty of endorsements from different parts of the County Republican Party.  I do have some thoughts on this race that I’ll keep to myself for now, but what I will say is that this seems like a race that may be much more important to OCGOP insiders than to the public at large — enough so that machinations involving other races, including those 73rd and 74th Assembly races, could end up having a lot to do with coalitions involving this race.  If a relatively weak Democrat entered this race and got enough votes to deny either of the candidates a majority, so that the race goes on into November, members of my party might not be entirely displeased.  A third person, Lisa Bartlett, has taken out papers — and I know nothing about her.

County Assessor:  The incumbent is Webster Guillory, who is vulnerable and may not run for re-election.  Claude Parrish of the Board of Equalization has taken out papers.  If Guillory doesn’t run — and maybe even if he does — expect another person in this race.

Auditor-Controller:  Jan Grimes is the incumbent; she has not yet taken out papers.  James Benuzzi has.  If Grimes doesn’t run, someone else will.

Clerk-Recorder:  There is some intrigue afoot here.  The incumbent is Republican Hieu Nguyen.  A reported Democrat, Monica Lopez-Maddox, has taken out papers against him — but her marriage to Republican former Capistrano School Board member Ken Maddox has raised eyebrows.  That may have something to do with a definite Democrat, Capistrano School Board member Gary Pritchard, having taken out papers as well.  (I know Gary, but I haven’t asked him about this.)  More on this matter in just a moment.

Public Administrator:  This elected position, involving acting as a fiduciary for people who die without wills, is tied to the appointed position of Public Guardian, which acts as a fiduciary for those who are judged mentally incompetent.  It has no incumbent, having been left vacant after the resignation of John Williams.  Vern will have a closer look at this race coming up; for now, an interesting  ”battle within the battle” looks to be between the aforementioned former Capistrano School Board member Ken Maddox and current Capo School Board member John Alpay — part of the reform slate that recalled Maddox.  There is some bad blood here, as I understand it — and it may be spilling into more than one race.  Perennial candidate Steve Rocco has also taken out papers; he seems unlikely to win — but he might well keep someone from getting a majority in June.  Last Friday, though, the tenor of the race changed dramatically:  Colleen Callahan, who ran for the position against Williams in 2010, took out papers.  She was featured prominently in this profile by Vern four years ago — and I suspect that she might be making it into this next profile as well.

Sheriff-Coroner: Sandra Hutchens has been battling cancer and at some point over the last while it was suggested to me that she would not be running for re-election, which I accepted uncritically.  Wrong!  She’s taken out papers, which presumably means that her medical condition is good enough to contemplated another full term — which for reasons outside of politics is welcome news.

Treasurer-Tax Collector Incumbent Shari Friedenrich is running again.  No one else has taken out papers.

Well, that’s all that’s in the report — although if no one has taken out papers for an office within Orange County it doesn’t appear, so I guess, I should look over County offices to see if I’ve missed anything.  Let’s see … no, no, no, no … County Board of Education races, but there’s nothing there yet … no, no … OH!

District Attorney:  No one has yet filed for District Attorney — but that’s not going to last.  Tony Rackauckas has been expected to run for re-election — but in the wake of the Kelly Thomas killing acquittals he’s got a whole new set of problems to face.  His Chief of Staff Susan Kang-Schroeder has been considered a possible candidate if he doesn’t run — or a possible Board of Supervisors appointee to a vacancy if he does run and then resigns.  Supervisor Todd Spitzer, his former deputy, has been expect to run against him (or her) — but has been oddly silent since the Thomas verdict.  (And any silence from Spitzer is truly odd.)  I hold the unfashionable position that the next DA will not be any of the names in boldface above — but if that’s so, whoever it’s going to be had better hurry up about it!

This is the only time — I think — until filing closes that I’m going to give the full rundown of all races.  From here on out — weekly or so, and then eventually more than that if things get interesting — it will be updates until our slates are full.


About Greg Diamond

Prolix worker's rights and government accountability attorney and General Counsel of CATER. His anti-corruption work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, leading them to work with the Democratic Party of Orange County Chair and other co-conspirators (who had long detested the internal oversight his presence provided) to remove him from the position of DPOC North Vice Chair of in violation of party rules and any semblance of due process. He also runs for office sometimes. Unless otherwise specifically stated, none of his writings prior to that lawless putsch ever spoke 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 Beautiful Bountiful Brea, but while he may brag about it he generally doesn't blog about it. A family member works as a campaign treasurer for candidates including 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 (except where noted) without compensation.