Thoughts on the Primary, Part 2, Legislative Races: Leavens Won’t Beat Mimi, but “Leavens + Raths” Might!


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In Part 1 of this recap – and you should check out Vern’s thoughts in the Live Blog Thread as well — we focused on County races rather than legislative ones for one good reason: Orange County was finished with counting votes and Los Angeles, with which we share some legislative districts, was not.  The exception, of course, was AD-73, to be known forevermore as “Munger’s Last Stand,” which I would have had to be in a deep coma not to want to cover immediately.  (I’ll cover it here again, just to include all of the legislative races in one post.)

I’ll be traditional for once: Congress, State Senate, Assembly, in (with one exception) numerical order.  The finalists are next to each district name, with the victor in the primary being named first.

CA-38: Linda Sanchez vs. Ben Campos

Forgot about this one, didn’t you?  Linda Sanchez is 6,000 votes (about 16%) ahead of her opponent, but in La Palma, Ben Campos beat her by 225 votes, or almost 16%!  Which leads me to renew my question to the Redistricting Commission: Why did you put La Palma in CA-38?  Some sort of joke?

CA-39: Ed Royce vs. Pete Anderson

Royce leads Anderson by 39%.  That’s about 32% in LA and about 42% in Orange and San Bernardino.  The lack of a strong challenger means that Royce will be able to fund elections all over the state, or even the nation.  For the over 100 or so people that I tried to get to run in this district, including Betty Yee and John Perez, this is what I was trying to prevent.

CA-45: Mimi Walters vs. Drew Leavens

This is the first race where I have something important to say, so stop checking Facebook.

Mimi Walters got under 45% of the vote: 44.7% (and that will probably decrease with provisional ballots.)  That’s exactly what I was hoping for — and it is huge.  Some of that may have involved strategic voting among people who plan to vote for Mimi in November but wanted to manipulate who she ran against, but I suspect that it wasn’t much.  Most Mimi supporters would rather have faced Leavens — a Democrat in a very Republican district — than the populist and honest Colonel Raths, out of fear that he might put together an anti-Mimi coalition among Democrats, independents and third parties, and disaffected Republicans.  And they were right to worry — because he might!

You may note that the cover photo for our Voter Guide was a shot of Raths and Leavens shaking hands outside of a Los Amigos meeting.  I praised them both in the article, because I honestly like and respect them both!  And they seem to get along.  My comment to them, shortly before that photo, was this:

What I want is for whichever one of you wins to say that he’ll name the other as his Chief of Staff.

Guess what: I wasn’t kidding.  I absolutely meant it.  Neither of these guys could beat Mimi Walters on their own.  But as a trans-ideological partnership based on mutual respect and friendship, they might be able to pull it off!  And, Drew, I’ll say the same thing to you now that I’d have said to Col. Raths had he won: THIS IS THE ONLY WAY YOU WIN.

It’s bold, it’s unexpected, it’s attention-getting, and it could work because you guys DO like and respect each other.  Giving Col. Raths some significant control over your operation yields a political operation pretty close to the ideological center of the 45th District — but more populist, because you both care about the little guy and Mimi Walters does not, and more honest, because you’re both ethical and Mimi Walters is not!

I have a pretty good sense, judging from a snub to my offered handshake at the Laguna Hills Democratic Club,  that Leavens has been royally pissed at me because I was so positive about Raths as well as him.  Well, sir, this is why I was — and, again, if he’d edged you out I’d be telling him to name you Chief of Staff and campaign with you over the next five months.  If you want to be a sacrificial lamb, that’s your business.  If you want to be a member of Congress, and attract big money to your campaign from sources you would never have imagined – THIS IS THE WAY TO DO IT!  At worst, you’ll put this seat into play — and you’ll have fun doing it.

I don’t know if Drew is going to feel like calling me — so you Democrats, Independents, populist Republicans, military veterans, and people who don’t like ethical basket cases, you contact him if you agree with me.  That’s why I’m putting this out in public rather than privately!

And those of you who are wondering about the stylistic split within the DPOC — this is a good example of it.  The people running the DPOC would be fine with Leavens being the equivalent of Peter Anderson in CA-39; I want to figure out a way to knock off Mimi Walters!

CA-46: Loretta Sanchez vs. Adam Nick

I’m going to do something I do not usually do: I’m sending you over to Pedroza’s joint to read a pretty important article.  It’s Who are Sherry Walker and Adam Nick and why are they carpetbagging in Central O.C.?  Give him his hits; he’s earned them.  Well, he’s earned them if his story checks out, but on its face it seems like that’s likely to happen.

Loretta got 50.7%, another Dem got 4.5%, Nick got 18.5%, another non-Latino Republican got 14.6%, and Art’s candidate Carlos Vasquez got 11.7%.  (Again, this is all before provisionals come in.)  I don’t think that Loretta has much to worry about this year.

CA-47: Al Lowenthal vs. Andy Whallon

I knew that a libertarian named Andy Whallon was in this race, but I had been told by someone associated with Al Lowenthal’s campaign that his 2012 opponent Gary DeLong had gotten in as well.  I haven’t paid close attention, because Al’s going to win either way.  Turns out that DeLong didn’t get in.  In the primary, it was Lowenthal by about 15% (that figure will likely grow) — about 27% in Long Beach but 5% in the hole in OC.  Lowenthal will have to continue to work on the latter — not because of 2014, but because of 2016.  (See discussion of SD-34, below.)

CA-48: Dana Rohrabacher vs. Suzanne Savary

Dama got 55.2% in the primary to Savary’s 19.8%; Wendy Leece got 11.9% and two other Dems combined for 13.1%.  So, my dreams of a Savary-Leece runoff will not come to pass.  I think that Leece’s supporters, as well as the other Democrats’, should support Savary.  We’ll see if that happens.

CA-49: Darrell Issa vs. Dave Peiser

Issa got 61.3%; Peiser got 28.8.  A third nominal Dem picked up the other 10%.   So, good for Peiser for showing the flag in November.  (Drew Leavens, you have a better fate in store for you that this, if you want it!)

SD-32: Mario Guerra vs. Tony Mendoza 

I find this a little disturbing.  Tony Mendoza, as expected, won the contest among four Democrats — but Republican Mario Guerra got 44.1% of the vote — exceeding 49% in the central Buena Park portion of his district.  Mendoza can probably count on both his 32.1% and the other Democrats’ 22.1% in November, but the Republicans still do have a realistic shot at the seat.  More prominent State Senate candidates did far worse than Guerra.  For example…

34: Janet Nguyen vs. Jose Solorio

Yes, Janet had huge honking signs all over the place.  Jose had little signs, in far fewer places, that said both “Jose Solorio” and “Vote for Vets.”  You see, the idea is to get you to associate Solorio, a non-veteran, with the cause of addressing veterans’ homelessness.  Veterans are popular (in theory, don’t talk to Steve Choi about that), Solorio likes veterans, therefore you will like him.  That’s the clever idea — and it doesn’t seem to occur to him or his advisers that its very transparency makes people wary that they’re not only being manipulated, but that they’re being manipulated by someone who thinks that they’re a simpleton.

It’s hard to argue with success, though, and Solorio did win three races for the Assembly!  But — it’s easier to argue with Solorio today than it was yesterday.  Janet Nguyen got 51.5% of the vote, while Solorio got 34% and his friend Long Pham has 14.5%.  Solorio lost to Janet by only 5% in the Los Angeles portion of the district, so in Orange County things were even worse, with Janet slamming him 53.4% to 32.3% — with the remaining 14.3% going to Pham — votes that are more likely to go to Janet rather than to him.

Solorio has one big thing going for him: the possibility that the FBI is going to come down hard on Janet for the Cal-Optima scandal or other corruption.  Absent that, though, he has to worry whether the state party will put that much money into his race versus just conceding the seat.  Most of us thought that Solorio would finish first, or at least a strong second, yesterday.  Instead, it’s not so obvious why he’s a better chance for a pickup than SD-4, SD-8, SD-12, or SD-14 — where underfunded Democrats also trailed Republicans by between 20-29%.  The argument that he is a better investment is based on the notion that he was dogging it in the primary — which raises the question of why.

(By the way — speaking of other districts, a big congratulations to LGBT Republican and occasional OJB blogger Matt Munson, the top vote-getter in SD-20 with 32.3% of the vote!  That means that Matt did as well overall as Jose did in OC!)

I can see one big reason that Solorio might still get the lion’s share of Democratic State Senate donations (at least the ones that don’t go to the Roger Dickinson-Richard Pan race up in SD-6, which doesn’t protect the seat) — and that is Alan Lowenthal.  In the State Senate, Nguyen would have a free shot to run for Congress every four years, starting in 2016, and she’d be a formidable opponent for Lowenthal.  Keeping Janet from being positioned to run against Al is the main reason that I’ve been grudgingly in favor of Solorio; if he does not look like a good bet to do so, then it could be that the better way to help Al (or whoever one day succeeds him, such as perhaps Patrick O’Donnell, who will win AD-70) would be to put the money into lots of really good opposition research.  Even if Solorio doesn’t keep Nguyen away from Lowenthal in 2016, Cal-Optima might!

SD-36: Pat Bates vs. Gary Kephart (I suspect)

The numbers say that Pay Bates got 100% of the vote, but Ladera Heights Council Member Kephart did put together a write-in campaign — and if no one else put together a more successful one, then he will be on the ballot in November.

Ling-Ling Hidden Sign

Chang eked out a narrow win in the figures released on primary night, despite some of her signs ending up in low-visibility locations.

AD-55: Ling-Ling Chang vs. Gregg Fritchle

My friend and larger doppelganger Gregg Fritchle may yet reverse the order of finish as provisional ballots come in, but it’s unlikely that Phillip Chen or Steve Tye, bunched about six and eight points back, will overcome either him or Chang.  Tye serves on the Diamond Bar City Council with Chang, so one may suppose that his decision to run was personal.  And Chen may not really be happy about Chang taking up a seat for 12 years.  So the prospect of Republican crossovers, especially ones funding Independent Expenditures, is about the best hope that Fritchle has in this district.  That,or someone could find a recording of Chang cursing someone out in voicemail — but how likely is that to happen?

AD-65: Young Kim vs. Sharon Quirk-Silva

Young Kim campaigned harder than SQS in the primary and she won by 9.4% — a margin that is likely to shrink but not disappear as provisionals come in.  Don’t be too impressed: that’s enough for me to rate the race as almost even at this point, but I still give SQS a narrow edge given what will be a much more favorable electorate.  If these two ever debate and it’s captured on video, that may be the last time that Kim shows her face in public before Election Day; I’ve heard even Republicans describe Kim as “Not Ready for Prime Time.”  So, it’s really a matter of whether the district wants to give up the enormous advantages of having someone tight with dominant party leadership in office, or whether it would rather have a lovely but semi-incoherent Bigoted Buttkicker.

AD-68: Don Wagner vs. Anne Cameron

Wagner neat Cameron 69% to 31%.  Cameron will accomplish the goal of showing the flag and doing her party and her district proud; making up that deficit will be more difficult.

AD-69: Tom Daly vs. Sherry Walker

Again, I refer you to Art Pedroza’s article linked in the discussion of CD-46.  This was supposed to be Ceci Iglesias‘s chance, in this — all together now! — most Latino district in the California Legislature.  Instead, it’s going to be two non-Latinos.  And people wonder why Latino voting is stagnant?  Daly, who got only 55.3% against the two Republicans, will cruise.

AD-72: Travis Allen vs. Joel Block

There was some question over whether new candidate Joel Block would be able to outpace perennial candidate Albert Ayala — the rare nonagenerian Democratic Party Tea Partier — who has name ID from his previous runs.  Block got about 60% of the vote between the two of them.  Unfortunately for him, Allen got 64.5% of the vote.

AD-74: Keith Curry vs. Matt Harper

Vern tried to warn me that Harper might come in second, though his argument was the Surf Citians just wanted to keep Harper from running for re-election.  A Republican in the know said that there were signs of abnormally strong political activity in Huntington Beach; I assured him that it was probably just Joe Carchio catching fire in the Supes’ race.  But no, I was wrong.  Harper took 24.4% of the vote to Curry’s 27.8% and that means that he will have the honor of losing to Curry this November by a margin that I am tentatively guessing will be around 75.6% to 24.4%.  If they debate publicly, it will be more like 77% to 23%.

Whoops!  What I meant to say is: sure, Harper can beat Curry!  Invest all of your money in this race!

Emmanuel Patrascu finished last with 12.3%, which is a surprise — it just goes to show that you can’t trust everything you read on the blogs.  Anila Ali (19.7%) would surely be going up against Curry in the runoff, probably as the top vote-getter, had Karina Onofre (15.8%) not experienced an attack of “Sudden Democrat Syndrome” on the last day of filing.  Onofre steadfastly denied that she had entered the race as a spoiler and she probably believes it — but, Karina, this is exactly what people said would happen.  Knocking Ali out of the runoff doesn’t make your path in the Democratic Party, if you do remain with us, any easier.  Some of us did try to warn you.  Thanks for trying to bring the Clippers here, though.

I’ve already heard — and used — Onofre’s name as a verb for putting a second member of the minority party into the mix as a way of assuring a double-majority-party runoff under a Top-Two system, as in “I’ll bet that the Republicans wish that they would have Onofreed Wendy Gabriella in AD-73!”  And that brings us to our last county legislative contest.

AD-73: Wendy Gabriella vs. Bill Brough

Bill Brough is attempting to plan himself into the Assembly until 2026.  Wendy Gabriella is trying to do so until 2016 — and then we’ll see what happens.   Is that difference of a decade enough to get the ambitious likes of Jesse Petrilla to oppose Brough?  Is the match in ideologies enough to get Anna Bryson — probably closer to Gabriella than Brough — to support the Democrat who was a longtime NPP?  Does Board of Equalization nominee Diane Harkey, who fired Brough as her Chief of Staff, really want him in there for a dozen years?  Does Paul Glaab — oh, forget that question.

Gabriella had the best chance of riding the ideological divide in the Republican Party into Sacramento if Petrilla or Bryson had been nominated.  Brough makes it a harder road.  But she’s a bright and engaging figure and he apparently has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way — I heard people wonder if his coming out of an apparently resigned slumber to almost overtake Gabriella for the top spot in the primary was some sort of ballot tabulation error.  Gabriella has worked hard and is not just another Democratic sacrificial lamb in South OC.  If Brough doesn’t do a really good job of consolidating the party — and he’s going to need good luck to make that happen — Gabriella could be the sort of shocking Democratic success coming out of OC than Sharon Quirk-Silva was in 2012, except even more unlikely.  She has already gotten off to a decent start!  Anyone in touch with Jesse Petrilla, so we can find out what he thinks about his coming in third?

A few final races

These didn’t make it into yesterday’s report, but as we’ve discussed them a bit they really deserve a place in our archives.

Board of Equalization Seat 4: Nader Shahatit vs. Diane Harkey

Inland Empress Nader Shahatit , the sole Democrat in a race that the Republicans forgot to Onofre, got 34.3% of the vote, embarrassing Diane Harkey, who got 34.0%.  None of the other four candidates, all Republicans, got even a third as much.   So it sounds like Shahatit has to be given some of the dirt on Harkey!  Anyone know of a website that has collected some good stories about her?

Attorney General: Kamala Harris vs. __________________ (read on!)

Orly Taitz finished sixth of seven with 3.1% of the vote, beating only Libertarian Jonathan Jaech, who had 2.4%.  If you’re out of the bipartisan political mainstream, you need to take a look at this result, because this was the race where one of them ought to have been able to make the runoff under various theories of political participation — to which, obviously, I am too open.  (It’s Vern’s fault.)  Kamala Harris took 53% of the vote without breaking a sweat; she’ll do far better in November.

Among the four registered Republicans – despite my heroic efforts to keep his name in the news, David King could muster only a third place finish among them, with 9.0%, beating only John Haggerty, who had 8.2%.  The struggle was between washed-up barely-was Phil Wyman and not-clear-t0-me-why-he’d-be-any-better-than-David-King Ronald Gold.  One of them got 11.5%; the other won the chance to lose decisively to Harris with 12.7%, only 1,211,125 votes behind her.  So who won?  The Retired Deputy Attorney General, who held that position from 1972-1979.  You can see which is which in this story from mid-March – in which I offer some advice about challenging ballot designations that if successful would surely have made a difference in this race.  But sometimes people just don’t listen!


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.