Josh Newman, the People’s Candidate for NW OC Senate.


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Josh's blimp hovers over Anaheim's ...

Josh’s blimp hovers over a Bernie Sanders rally at Anaheim’s La Palma Park .

I mean, you see it nationally now in the Presidential race, on the right with Trump and on the left with Bernie – Americans are tired of the establishment, the status quo, Party insiders telling them what their choices are, career politicians always searching for their next move, and not above moving physically, or “carpetbagging,” to make that happen.  And we see that now locally in northwest Orange County, the 29th state senate district.

sd 29 map

If you live in Fullerton, Placentia, Yorba Linda, Brea, La Habra, Cypress, La Palma, Stanton, Anaheim west of Harbor (or north of Lincoln but west of the 57 like me), or various godforsaken out-of-county hinterlands not in this blog’s purview, you’ve been represented for many years by the quintessential Repuglican insider, a mediocrity named Bob Huff.  [Though the district lines shifted somewhat four years ago.]

huff croppedNot a real conservative, Diamond Bar’s Huff has typified the worst of the California Republican Party – manipulative retrograde “social conservatism” mixed with what we call a “kleptocratic” bent, by which we mean forever searching for ways to divert public, taxpayer dollars into the profits of the already rich and well-connected. 

No, seriously, Huff’s entire 21-year political career, including his 3-1/2 years as senate minority leader, has been all about that – from his tireless championing of now-discontinued Redevelopment Agencies which bled public money from education and public safety to subsidize private development (actually earning him an award as “Quarterback for Redevelopment” from the klepto-liberal League of California Cities) to his current obsession with Charter Schools – ANY Charter School! – which likewise divert public education funds to profit-making ventures.

tim shaw lifting weightsSo, that’s been our state senator, and may have been till he croaked, were it not for term limits.  In this term-limited world it’s important to have protégés, and for at least a decade, Huff’s top protégé – even more than Ling Ling Chang – has been the baby-faced La Habra Mormon Tim Shaw (right, working out at home.)  Having labored many years in the salt mines of the LH City Council, backing Huffly policies while working as an aide for the man himself, he was the chosen one to take over Huff’s seat, until Kang happened.  [To his credit, Tim has actually made a few good conservative votes on the OCTA Board, particularly in  opposing the kleptocratic, publicly-funded Disney-Pringle Streetcar in Anaheim.]

Along Comes Sukhee.

sukhee 1

Many miles to the southeast, a Democratic politician in Irvine smelled an opportunity!  A Korean immigrant, Sukhee Kang had moved from Anaheim Hills over a decade earlier to find a home in Irvine’s Democratic inner circle, then as always dominated by the autocratic and stubborn Larry Agran.

Sukhee quickly and happily became the third essential leg of Agran’s three-person council majority, rubber-stamping Larry’s every whim.  Too bad, the reign of Agran and Kang is best known for the OC’s greatest anti-monument to government waste and incompetence, the Great non-Park – marked by a quarter-billion dollars squandered over two decades in no-bid consulting contracts and other waste, a big orange balloon, and no park.

With this stellar record under his belt, termed out as mayor, and restless for higher office, Sukhee looked around last year and look what he found up in Northwest OC – an open state senate seat in a district with a growing percentage of high-propensity-voting Asian Americans!  “I could maybe win that seat, and get the Democrats a super-majority!” said Sukhee to himself, and flew up to Sacramento to impress this notion upon the Democrat bigwigs.

And they were receptive!  Sukhee’s case was well-made, and Senate President pro-tem Kevin De Leon signed on enthusiastically, salivating over the prospect of the elusive 27th seat, and bringing Sukhee countless Democrat endorsements and bottomless funding. After all, what do those people up there know from Irvine or Fullerton, or the Great non-Park?  It’s all just the fucking OC to them.

carpetbaggerSo, sure thing laid out, Sukhee went ahead and announced his candidacy for NW OC Senate, and then, three months later, found himself a nice place in Fullerton, locked away in a gated community named Pinehurst overlooking a golf course, and resolved to begin introducing himself to his new neighbors in the hopes they’d pull the lever for him.

That’s what’s known as CARPETBAGGING, and a lot of voters resent it – when you move from one area to another to pursue political office while just assuming you know how to represent the interests of an area you’re totally new to.  (Sukhee replies, “I’ve lived ALL OVER Orange County, and I lived in Anaheim [*cough* Hills] for ten years when my kids were going to school!”  YOU be the judge.)

Raise Your Kang a Chang.

ling ling starbuxBack in GOP-land, Bob Huff and his fellow insiders stroked their jaws – hmmm … an Asian in SD 29 – maybe Kang and the Democrats were on to something!  Maybe the GOP could even lose this crucial seat for racial reasons, and after all, hadn’t the OC GOP in recent years had amazing good fortune with the Asian-lady formula? 

Above, did I say “protégé” in the singular?  No, I used the plural, and Huff has a stable of ’em.  Sorry, Tim Shaw, it is not yet your time – Huff went and plucked a different protégé, one that he had just installed into the Assembly and was still just barely learning the ropes – one Ling Ling Chang, also of Diamond Bar.  (And poor Tim got sent back to the salt mines of La Habra where he is ONCE AGAIN running for re-election to council and no doubt glumly muttering, “It is not yet my time,” as I have heard several Republican politicians do in similar circumstances.  Pinche drones.)

Although I’m glad to see Ling Ling’s wiki entry has been edited down to exceeding modesty, she has long-long had a troubled relationship with the truth – among many other things having claimed to having a biology degree from UC Riverside when she merely “attended” there, and to be attending “Harvard” when she was really only taking some online extension courses from Harvard Extension.  She sailed into the Assembly in 2014 without much resistance, but her year and a half there have been undistinguished and awkward, not quite ready-for-senate material:

Meanwhile Back in the Real World…

Left out of all these insider shenanigans, indeed oblivious to them, was a regular guy – if “regular” can be made to include “brilliant” – named Josh Newman.

josh newman face

A Yale graduate (yes, Yale, not “Yale extension”), Josh was the only member of his class of ’86 to sign up for the Army, in which he served four years as an officer.  (He later volunteered for Desert Storm but was not called up.)  From there he went on to great success as a business developer for several internet startups in Silicon Valley, which explains how he can afford to have a campaign blimp and such.

Four years ago, not long after moving to Fullerton to be near his wife’s ailing mother, he got tired of seeing his fellow veterans – even ones who were not wounded or PTSD – having such a hard time finding work, and started a nonprofit called “Armed Force to Workforce” to help with the problem.  I wondered, did he know my brother, a college dean whose passion has long been helping veterans with their education, and who happens to be a very conservative Republican Christian libertarian – it turns out they’ve worked together a lot and both think the world of each other.

And they both share a hard-earned cynicism toward most of the elected officials they’ve tried to work with.  As Josh told Los Amigos in March (video below) …

“In this capacity [Armed Force to Workforce] I’ve had a lot of interactions over the past 3-4 years with state agencies and elected officials, and it led me to conclude that the single limiting factor on making things better for veterans, especially around employment, is the quality and commitment of elected officials. 

“So I can honestly say, absent one elected official and that is Sharon Quirk-Silva [take that Quirk-haters! – V] that I have been uniformly unimpressed with the public elected officials that I have met, whom I have engaged, in the very specific and simple question of ‘Why can’t we do more for veterans?’ 

“And I think you can extrapolate that to any number of issues… and it’s reasonable to conclude that when you look at how politics works in California – giant state, big problems, SMALL politics – and what we get in our elected officials is we get professional politicians but we do not get public servants.”

Noticing, as the others in this story, that there was a state senate seat open where he lived, Josh concluded that he could do a better job in it than most others.  But when he approached the local Democratic leadership, that leadership hemmed and hawed, went out of the room for a bit and came back in with a pained expression:  “Josh, you’re great, but we’ve already got a guy.  Why don’t you run for school board or something instead?”

josh newman coasters

Let’s Have a Primary!

Josh points out the obscenity of there being only three candidates in a California state senate district of nearly a million people.  “This new ‘open primary’ system was supposed to get more people involved, level the playing field, insert more moderate points of view… What it in fact seems to have done is make a lot of money for political consultants, and create an appetite among a certain type of professional politician to sort of embrace this opportunity.  I am the ‘naive idealist’ who thought, ‘You know what, I think I have something to offer.’  And my goal is to make the case … that people deserve better representation, that public service should matter more than politics.”

Couple months ago the old-school black matron who runs the Anaheim Democratic Club announced, “We have to support Sukhee Kang.”  I shot back, “No I don’t, not till June anyway.  I think Josh is better.”  She shot back, “Josh is NOT endorsed by the State Democratic Party;  Sukhee is.”  I say, not only is Josh more capable and principled, but like Greg I think he has the better chance of beating Ling Ling if he makes it through the June primary.

All right Josh, that's enough whimsy.

All right Josh, that’s enough whimsy now.

I’m voting for Josh because I want to be represented by a Democrat who has some intelligence, independence, initiative and energy.  I can’t picture him sitting there as Larry Agran’s third vote just going along with every bad decision.  Instead I picture him saying, “You know, Larry, let’s rethink this.  You know, Larry, this Forde and Mollrich is taking us for a ride, let’s try someone else.  Let’s try bidding some contracts out.  You know, Larry, I think these Republicans are making some good points.  You know, Larry, I think we’re losing this.”

Some play the game of “Who has the best residency, the guy who lived in Anaheim Hills [not in the district] in the 90’s and has moved all over the county to pursue different political offices, and has now gone to Fullerton just to run for senate, or the guy who moved to Fullerton just five years ago to be near his wife’s ailing mother, with no idea he would later be running for office?”  Again, you be the judge.

If you live in the district, I highly recommend taking thirteen minutes of your day watching this video I took of Josh introducing himself and answering questions at Los Amigos.  The only danger is you might fall in love with him:

 

Josh on the issues:

josh newman better than the rest


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.