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This is the last “Day at the Races” post prior to the opening of actual filing tomorrow, Feb. 10. (More will appear between now and mid-March.) This series chronicles who has taken out papers for “signatures in lieu” — the initial formal step one takes to file to run for an office that will appear on OC ballots this June. Until now, it’s all been a matter of people (1) taking out papers from the Registrar of Voters and (2) collecting “in-lieu” signatures to help pay for their filing fees. The former action is free and not yet required, the latter is optional — and both at this point may be part of a feint. (Rather than using the term “taking out papers,” I’m just going to call this activity “pre-filing,” which it essentially is.)
So, I’m going to make this post a full review of all Orange County election contests in the June primary – including checking the books in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, and (thanks to one stinking Board of Equalization race) Riverside and Imperial Counties as well. I’m alsogoing to throw in what speculations and rumors I’ve heard up until now — including those I’ve heard muttering to myself. So, with perfunctory and half-sincere apologies to those races that get short shrift, here we go! Repeating my boilerplate from the first installment in this year’s series:
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 OC Superior Court Judge races work the same way. (Only two such races will occur this year, and I’m sure that someone who knows and cares more will explain this.) (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.
Governor of California and Other State Executive Officer Positions
Despite pre-filing by Robert Ornelas, Luis J. Rodriguez, and Joe Leicht (for Governor), Laura Wells (for Controller), and Ellen H. Brown for Treasurer, the only likely OC candidate who matters in this category is Great Moderate Republican Hope Neel Kashkari — and he hasn’t yet filed. My understanding is that he has to file in his county of residence, which is here — so we may well break some news on this one. Incumbent Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Asmb. Tim Donnelly are the other leading contenders.
State Board of Equalization, 4th District
This is a potentially big race for one of the four seats on the Board with the State Controller that sets and enforces tax policy. The 4th District includes Orange, San Diego, Imperial, Riverside, and all but the northern strip of San Bernardino County. Two OCers have filed: South County Assemblywoman Diane Harkey and Area Man John F. Kelly. (“Area Man” and “Area Woman” are code, taken from The Onion, for “otherwise undistinguished.”) Lou Correa, Tom Harman, and Van Tran have all made initial expressions of interest in this race, though none have pre-filed. (No one outside of Lou’s office — or maybe even outside of his cranium — seems to know what he has in mind for this year.) There has been some speculation that, if the competition for this seat is too fierce, Harkey might have a better shot at taking on Pat Bates for the 36th State Senate seat. That would create some political blood sport for all (well, some) to enjoy — perhaps enough so that Democrats might stand back and let them pound each other all year while focusing on South County’s Congressional, Assembly, and perhaps Supervisorial races. Of the other counties, only Imperial seems to list pre-filing — and no one there is running. Termed-out State Senator Mark Wyland from Escondido, though, has long been considered to be the leading candidate from outside of OC, and has been enjoying some poisonous relations, including litigation, with Harkey.
38th Congressional District
Within OC, this district includes only the city of La Palma. No one from Orange County has pre-filed here. We’ll keep a close eye on this one. Or not.
39th Congressional District
Incumbent Ed Royce has not yet taken out papers for re-election. I have a theory that he might bolt for the 45th District, presumably messing up plans discussed just below. If he did bolt, my guess is that it would be to try to hand the seat to his ally (and my 2012 opponent) 29th District State Senator Bob Huff, who retains a healthy war chest. This would allow Huff to get the jump on other potential Congressional aspirants such as Supervisor Shawn Nelson (who is running for re-election this year), termed out 55th District Assemblyman Curt Hagman, and former Congressman from much of this area Gary Miller, who would probably LOVE to get back from his Democratic district into the relative safety of CA-39. Other pre-filers: Robert Lauten – an OJB commenter, LaRouchie, Oath Keeper, and Tea Partier and Democrat Pete Anderson, chair of the Democrats of North Orange County club. Celebrity candidates are still under consideration. If Royce bolts, though, the shock waves could be huge. And if Miller wanted to carpetbag in from Riverside, you might see some people from LA do the same. Until Royce files, I think that several races elsewhere might be on hold. LA County’s eastern San Gabriel Valley and Chino Hills in San Bernardino make up the balance of the district. Among Democrats, State Senator Ed Hernandez (even if, as I recall, he’s slightly out of the district) has a free shot this year and would presumably want to take a peek at this one if Royce moves away.
45th Congressional District
This has long been expected to feature termed-out Supervisor John Moorlach (whom unions hate/hate/hate but who has been right on some issues such as opposing the 405 Toll Roads and, um, I’ll have to ask Vern) and State Senator Mimi Walters. Walters would have been tried for flouting the same residency requirements that got Inglewood State Senator Rod Wright convicted of felony perjury if OC had a forceful DA like the one in Los Angeles instead of Tony Rackauckas, whose apparently interest in investigating and prosecuting corruption among Republican electeds falls below “underwhelming” into some more extreme territory like “completely non-whelming.” Neither Moorlach nor Walters has pre-filed, which to me raises the question of whether they have some inkling that maybe Ed Royce is planning to move to a district where he won’t have to face busy expectant father Jay Chen in a district will be moving further towards Democratic control by 2016 — and every year after that The only candidates who have pre-filed are retired military officer Greg Raths, Ben McKenna, and Noburu Isugawa, apparently a former Republican considering a run here and in two other districts as an unknown Democrat. No endorsement reported in this race.
46th Congressional District
Incumbent Loretta Sanchez has three pre-filers against her: John Cullum, Carlos Vasquez, and Ehab Atalla. None will seriously challenge her.
47th Congressional District
No candidates from OC at this point — or likely at all. Incumbent Alan Lowenthal will face another challenge from fellow Long Beacher Gary DeLong, whom he soundly thumped in 2012, as well as possibly from a libertarian. This rematch will sort itself out soon; anyone else who runs is probably chaff.
48th Congressional District
Alleged apartment-trasher Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has attracted several pre-filers to challenge his re-election. The biggest name is Republican Costa Mesa Councilmember Wendy Leece, who has apparently figured out that Rohrabacher, whose buffoonery has grown to the point where now gets its own locker in the House gym, is vulnerable to attack by a sensible conservative without armloads of baggage. The leading Democrats seem to be Dr. Suzanne Joyce Savary and Robert Banuelos. 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. No boldface for him here.) Could Dana also bolt? He’s old enough to retire — but he likes where he is. If he did, though, watch for Moorlach — and maybe everyone else. (If Royce switches to CA-45 — maybe watch for Moorlach anyway! Man needs a gig!) This may be the wildest primary in the county if it fills up. I suspect, though, that unless Royce switches races some of these pre-filers will not be filers.
49th Congressional District
Democrat David Peiser is challenging Rep. Darrell Issa’s re-election — but the actual filing seems to be taking place in San Diego County.
32nd State Senate District
No Orange Countian — and only Buena Park is within this district — is running to succeed scandal-encrusted and thankfully termed-out Senator Ron Calderon. In LA County, Democratic former Assemblyman Tony Mendoza seems to be the favorite here, with former Assemblywoman Sally Havice also in the race. I’ll list the others if and when they file.
34th State Senate District
Right now, no Democrat seems likely to face off against former Assemblyman Jose Solorio for one spot in the runoff. Republican Supervisor Janet Nguyen – whom our intrepid DA has cleared of conflict of interest-related wrongdoing (and you really ought to read that article just for the commentary from former Congressman Mel Levine) –has pre-filed, which doesn’t mean she won’t face legal problems from a more vigorous prosecutor with Cal Optima (or whatever). Former County School Board member, and 2012 Assembly candidate Long Pham has done so as well. Along with AD-65, this is considered to be one of the most significant battles for control over the state legislature over the next two years, as Democrats try to maintain an on-again, off-again, who’s-running-f0r-higher-office-today two-house supermajority.
36th State Senate District
This district doesn’t really seem to have an incumbent right now — despite the persistent rumors that 37th District State Senator Mimi Walters really does still live in Laguna Niguel — as incumbent Joel Anderson’s 36th district does not include the OC portion of the redrawn district. From OC, Supervisor Pat Bates has pulled papers, as has Ken Lopez, who may or may not be the same person as Ken Maddox or Ken Maddox-Lopez, something that will be investigated if and only if it becomes necessary. Former Assemblyman from San Diego County Martin Garrick had been rumored as likely to run here, but he’s had some problems with the law. You may be wondering whether any Democrat, from either county, will file. You are not alone in that. I’ve heard no chatter at all — and neither has Google.
55th Assembly District
Yorba Linda’s Craig Young is currently the only Orange Countian considered to be a likely candidate in this race — and he hasn’t yet filed. Among LA Republicans, 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. Walnut’s Gregg Fritchle is once again to be the Democratic candidate here.
65th Assembly District
Even more than SD-34, this is considered to be he marquee race in Orange County (and even statewide.) It pits incumbent Democratic Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva against Ed Royce’s ex-staffer and (as I understand it) de facto social director Young Kim. If anyone else plans to run here, 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
This one looks set: incumbent Republican Don Wagner against psychologist, counselor, and longtime Democratic activist Anne Cameron. Wagner has his eyes on Mimi Walters’s State Senate seat in 2016.
69th Assembly District
Incumbent Democrat Tom Daly doesn’t even have any rumored competition — but he hasn’t yet pre-filed. He probably will — but if he has something else in mind he could be waiting until the last minute to toss the seat to someone like his former employee (and then independent contractor) Jordan Brandman. This would give Brandman’s opponents who want a Latino representative in this district only five days to decide who’d run against him. (I pretty much expect something like this to happen some time over the next decade. This year seems too soon — but if the Assembly is not to Daly’s taste, then it would be a great time for a surprise attack — especially given that Julio Perez is now occupied with the Labor Fed. For now, just keep the possibility of this feint in the back of your mind.)
72nd Assembly District
Incumbent Assemblyman Travis Allen hasn’t yet pre-filed. Presuming he does, he is unlikely to face a Republican challenger this year. Democrat Joe DoVinh had been expected to run here, but reportedly he is now focused on taking the Garden Grove Council Seat of his wife, Dina Nguyen — which he should be able to achieve. Only last cycle’s last-place finisher, nominal Democrat Albert Ayala, has filed at this point — but this weekend Joel Bloch sought and received the Democratic Party endorsement for the seat, which is an even stronger indication than pre-filing, because that costs money!
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, outgoing Assemblywoman Diane Harkey’s staffer Bill Brough, former violent convicted felon (whose record has now been expunged) Rancho Santa Margarita Councilman Jesse Petrilla, Capistrano School Board member Anna Bryson, and Laguna Niguel Councilmember Paul Glaab have all pre-filed. The district has enough Democrats and 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 (maybe even more so) as the 73rd. Councilman Matt Harper from Huntington Beach, Councilman Keith Curry from Newport Beach, recent transplant Karina Onofre from wherever she moved to from Santa Ana, and Travis Allen staffer Emanuel Patrascu have now all pre-filed. Democrat Anila Ali has pre-filed as well — and if she follows through will probably have enough money to mount a campaign, allowing her to make the runoff in a deeply split GOP field. But, going back to my discussion of CA-45 — what happens if Ed Royce bigfoots it into that district? Mimi Walters stays in the State Senate, but John Moorlach needs a place to hang his hat. This would seem like the obvious spot. If that happens, I think that Curry stays in the race — and Onofre doesn’t have much to lose by doing the same — but Harper and Patrascu would likely only be spoilers at that point. And a Moorlach-Curry face-off, with Ali in there to keep things interesting in June, would make for a very interesting race, given that the winner could very well spend 12 years in this seat.
Only two Superior Court Judges will be running for re-election against challengers. In Office #20, Helen Hayden filed (not just pre-filed!) to challenge Judge Derek G. Johnson; in Office #27, Wayne Philips will run against Judge Janet Motoike. In two offices, we know that the incumbents won’t be running — which means that filing for those races ends tomorrow. In Office #35, Judge Nancy Weiben Stock will step down, with candidates Jeff Ferguson and Carmen Luege facing off. In Office 14, Judge William R. Froeberg will step down. Four candidates have already filed: Frederick Fascenelli, Kevin Haskins, Kenneth C. Jones, and Thomas E. Martin. You may wonder: is this a “plurality wins” race or one that goes to a November runoff? Great question! Someone find out for me, please. 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 either Assemblyman Allan Mansoor or new OC arrival Board of Equalization member Michelle Steel (wife of former State GOP Chair Shawn Steel.) Alan Schlar has also taken out papers but can figure only as a spoiler.
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. (Of mild interest, Nelson hasn’t yet taken out papers.) Does Nelson have his eye on another office? Well, one possibility does come to mind — keep reading below for a great conspiracy theory. If he didn’t run, he might be waiting so as to clear the field for his ally former Supervisor and Assemblyman Chris Norby, who has been making noises about running for Fullerton City Council again. Running for this seat would make more sense. Either way, I can now announce that the Democratic candidate will be — what’s that? No, I guess I can’t announce anything yet. But there will be one — and I certainly hope that it won’t be me. 5th District, Board of Supervisors: We have an interesting three-way face-off among Republicans. (A fourth person, Joe Williams, has also pre-filed, but I know nothing about him. There is an OC Deputy District Attorney by that name, but it’s a pretty common name. I’ll revise this if and when I know more.) The higher-profile figures are former two-time Laguna Niguel Mayor Robert Ming, Dana Point Councilwoman Lisa Bartlett, and Mission Viejo Councilman Frank Ury. 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. It’s not clear whether a Democrat will run — and the prospect of sucking up South County resources through November, rather that just June, has its appeal. (Then again, maybe Williams is a Dem! Or maybe he won’t actually file.)
The incumbent in the only remaining non-hyphenated County Office is Webster Guillory, who is vulnerable and may not run for re-election. Claude Parrish of the Board of Equalization has taken out papers. Either way, I understand that plans are afoot for another very qualified candidate. This won’t likely be a cakewalk for anyone.
Jan Grimes is the incumbent; she didn’t pre-file. James Benuzzi and Eric Woolery both have. Grimes seems well-respected; I don’t see why she wouldn’t run, but no inside info here.
There is some intrigue afoot here. The incumbent is Republican Hugh 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 (or Maddow-Lopez, etc.) 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.) Steve Rocco is also in the race.
District Attorney-Public Administrator
This one is complicated. The County Supervisors are very upset at you, Orange County voters, for not agreeing to let them appoint the Public Administrator (who is also the Public Guardian, a more lucrative but non-elected office.) So, they’ve folded that office into the chores of the District Attorney, leaving several candidates out in the cold. The only person who has pre-filed for DA is Tony Rackauckas – 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. T-Rack’s former deputy, Supervisor Todd Spitzer, has been expect to run as well, but has been oddly silent since the Thomas verdict. (And any silence from Spitzer is truly odd.) I’m hearing buzz — too good to check, that Supervisor Shawn Nelson (who seems to be highly buddied-up to T-Rack these days) may want to aim for DA — leading to the possibility that T-Rack will not file. It’s a gamble, if so — Nelson, unlike Spitzer, has to decide whether to run for re-election this year, as noted above, so he can’t wait past March 7 to see whether T-Rack stays in unless he wants to give up his seat as a Supe. No Democrat has as yet expressed interest, but I think that one will — even if for no other reason than to prolong the agony on the other side of the aisle. There would be valid reason for a Democrat to run, though — many of us Democrats don’t like T-Rack’s apparent obliviousness to non-videotaped wrongdoing by public officials and law enforcement. Lou Correa, who is nominally raising money for an Attorney General bid in 2018 (because you have to say that you’re running for something if you’re going to raise money) would be an obvious choice for this, if he really does want to be AG.
Sandra Hutchens had 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 pre-filed, which presumably means that her medical condition is good enough to contemplated another full term — which for reasons outside of politics is welcome news.
Incumbent Shari Friedenrich is running again, with no opposition emerging as yet. I keep reading that OCEA has been upset with her at times regarding her votes on pensions, so one might expect a labor-backed candidate — but it’s getting late in the game for that!
County Board of Education, Districts 2 and 5
David Boyd is the incumbent in District 2; my old religious school friend Elizabeth Dorn Parker holds office in District 5, the two seats up for election this year. Neither they nor anyone else pre-filed for anything. Want to know whether you live in one of those districts? Here’s a map. If you made it all the way down to the end of this piece, there’s a good chance that you’re qualified!
UPDATE, Feb. 11
CA-39: Ed Royce has taken out papers, but it don’t mean nothing ’til he’s put a ring on it.
CA-45: Drew Leavens was the other candidate in CA-49 whose name I couldn’t recall — and he’s no longer a candidate in CA-49. Instead, thanks to some discussions with the local party, he’s running in CA-45, John Campbell’s current district. He’s an impressive guy with a background that people will like. I took some nice photos of him, which maybe we’ll see next week. Moorlach still hasn’t filed. (Look out, AD-74!)
2nd Supe: Republican Huntington Beach Councilman Joe Carchio has joined the scrum. Democrat Jim Moreno may be the top vote-getter in June if this keeps up!
4th Supe: Shawn Nelson has taken out papers — but again, there’s no ring on it. I still suspect chicanery coming in the DA’s race.
County Board of Education: Both incumbents David Boyd (2nd district) and Elizabeth Dorn Parker (5th District) have now pre-filed.
A look at filings in other counties for cross-district races will be coming later
today — maybe.
UPDATE, Feb. 14
In AD-55, Peter Cruz has pre-filed. I have no idea who he is, which, if he’s a Democrat, is sort of a problem because as party Vice-Chair for this region I’m supposed to have some idea who he is. (Hey, Peter! Contact me!)
Tom Daly has pre-filed in AD-69 — but there’s no ring on it.
In AD-72, umptygenerian perpetual para-Democratic candidate Albert Ayala is on the ballot! Democrat Joel Block has pre-filed and — no less importantly, received the Democratic Party endorsement last weekend. Travis Allen is presumably still going to file.
In AD-74, John Moorlach has still not switched to this race and may not yet even realize that he’s likely to do so.
In County Board of Education Area 5, two challengers, Kimberly Clark and Linda Lindholm, have now pre-filed against Elizabeth Dorn Parker. That this could become a competitive race surprises me. And let me be the first (at least in this context) to make the joke that Kimberly Clark’s website is here.
Appointed incumbent Ira Glasky has filed for the Irvine Board of Education special election.
Shawn Nelson has an opponent! It’s Rodolfo Gaona, whom — and I’m going out on a limb with this speculation — Anaheim politics watchers better know as Rudy Gaona. Rudy — write me! You need to speak at the Democratic club in Fullerton!
An exciting development in the race for Assessor will get its own story!
John Willard joins the race for Auditor. C’mon, Jan Grimes — you runnin’ or you not runnin’?
Tony Rackauckas hasn’t put a ring on it, but no one else has as yet pre-filed. What do you have to do to get an opponent around here? ¡No subsistirá!