Irvine Mayoral Candidate and Developers’ Darling Don Wagner Has (Seriously) Filed to Run for Attorney General in 2018


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Don Wagner apparently hopes to be very busy in 2017-2018. Too busy to be an engaged and competent Mayor?

Don Wagner apparently hopes to be very busy in 2017-2018.  Too busy to be an engaged and competent Mayor?

Republican State Representative Don Wagner has created a committee to run for California Attorney General in 2018.  Sometimes, this sort of act is a mere formality, a ruse engaged in to facilitate fundraising (because you have to raise money for some office, even if you never intend to run for that one.)  But there seems to be signs that Wagner might actually be serious about this — which if so raises the question of why is he currently running for Mayor of Irvine?  An statewide campaign, after all, would keep him awfully busy — and governing (or mayor-ing) a city the size of Irvine takes up a whole lot of one’s time.

A politician’s having future career plans is fine, but an elected official failing to focus on his or her job is not.  Wagner clearly sees himself as warranting an office more prestigious than Mayor of Irvine — he did run for State Senate against John Moorlach, after all — and the Mayoral position seems like the equivalent of a “safety school” for an entering student who plans to transfer.  But still: having an open committee for election to an office that would occur in the same year that he would run for reelection is sort of a poke in the eye to the voters.  Wagner was a notably diffident campaigner in his first election race and it’s not even clear how seriously he is taking his bid for mayor.  (Having lots of developers’ money behind you can substitute for a lot of personal effort.)

Speaking of which: Wagner already has over $1 million in donations from developers — a group that within Irvine is notorious for making “side deals” with politicians to allow them to keep building homes.  Those homes in turn are often so expensive that few Irvine residents can afford them, although wealthy foreigners who seeking to get their money out of their home countries before their economies collapse can afford to hold them, even if left empty, as long-term investments.

Maybe that’s the secret to how Wagner can, on the one hand, be the “developers’ darling” and on the other hand conceding to the polls that advise him that he has better at least pretend to be seriously concerned with solving Irvine’s traffic problems.  Wagner promises to appoint a “czar” to reduce new traffic congestion, which — if the “czar” has any power and the inclination to use it, could be bad news for developers.  However, if the houses that Wagner were to help approve would be sitting vacant for many years as convenient parking lots for Chinese yuan, then there’s no increase in traffic!  If this is really his plan, though, he should make it more explicit.

Meanwhile, Wagner should dissolve his Attorney General committee immediately.  He only brought in $3600 this year, spent $1363, and had a balance as of September 30 of $5253.  Having such a committee is important not because of its meager size, but because of what it says about his plans (eyes on a bigger prize) and what it says about his prudence.  Didn’t it occur to him that some blog might pick it up after it was sent in by someone like Steven Choi?  (Note: really, we swear, it was not Wagner’s former opponent Choi — and we’re not saying that only because we are sworn to protect our sources.)

Wagner is running in the Mayor’s race against Democrat Mary Ann Gaido, Republican Katherine Daigle, and architect Gang Chen.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)