The Campaign is Underway! Democrats Endorse, Republicans Enhort


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DPOC voters stand up for Joe Kerr in 4th Supe race. (Photo credit to whoever was sitting at that computer terminal at the bottom and provided this to be posted on Facebook.)

[1] Democratic Party Endorsements

The DPOC endorsed several Democrats for the June elections last night, including three in contested races, which will receive longer write-ups.

Uncontested races:

ASSESSORNathaniel Fernandez Epstein

Epstein is up against two Republicans.  Note: He is also the only candidate on this list whom I know to be represented by my daughter’s campaign treasurer firm, although I don’t know if she handles his case.  I don’t profit from this.

SHERIFF-CORONER: Duke Nguyen

Nguyen , I’m told, the first Viet to run for this office — and possibly the first Dem.

COUNTY SUPERVISOR #2: Brendon Perkins

A late but welcome addition into the race against Michelle Steel of Rancho Palos Verdes or wherever it is now.

BOARD OF EDUCATION #5: Mary Navarro

Navarro is running against multiple Republicans in a race where the plurality winner wins in June.

Contested races:

BOARD OF EDUCATION #2: David Boyd

Boyd has been an NPP (and reportedly previously a Republican), and has been part of a majority that included at least two reasonable (and I’d be even nicer than that if I weren’t part of a political gang) Republicans including Elizabeth Dorn Parker.  Boyd is now a reasonable Democrat — which explains why he is now a featured villain in Matt Cunningham’s blogs — and is up against a well-funded extremist named Barke.  He was up against a latecomer and newcomer, young  Matthew Nguyen, about whom he had nice things to say — but whom he also noted was inexperienced and underfunded.  With two Dems against one Republican in a plurality-winner race, the party absolutely had to take a stand — and chose the one with a prayer of winning.  I hope that Nguyen will preserve his future in the party, suspend his campaign, and help both Boyd and Duke Nguyen.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Brett Murdock

As many of you know, especially if you’ve read the recent write-up in the Voice of OC, I’m representing Anaheim activist Mark Daniels in a lawsuit to remove  Lenore Albert from the race for District Attorney on the grounds that she is ineligible to serve because she was suspended from the practice of law at the time that she signed the form declaring herself to be eligible.  (She also remains suspended today, will still be suspended next week, and will almost surely remain suspended (or will have been disbarred) by the time the next District Attorney term begins — all of which she denies and demands we not say.)  I’m not going to write much about the case through the hearing date on April 5, other than perhaps to share some court papers publicly filed or shared by both me and Lenore (with mine including various documentation of her suspension and hers including publicly circulated documents proving that she was at one time an attorney in good standing — which is not in dispute.)  But I will share what happened at Monday night’s meeting.

Lenore spoke first and, among other things, said that the party should endorse an attorney who has been before a jury — implying that Murdock has not done so, which I’ve confirmed with him is untrue.  Murdock spoke next, noting that the election would largely be about ethical issues — “honesty and integrity” — and noted that Lenore had from been suspended from the bar.  It looked like he was going to connect the dots and say that this made her a poor vehicle for a “pro-ethics” message — but he never got there, as mentioning Lenore’s suspension led to screaming from her, and heckling from Dan Chmielewski (admitted to in a comment to the Voice of OC article linked above) and at least one other male Lenore supporter who was screaming that this was a lie.  Lenore herself went increasingly bonkers and continued screaming at him from the audience.  After Chmielewski interrupted Murdock a second time, Chair Fran Sdao told him to be quiet or leave the room — an admonition met with a big round of applause.

The vote, as I recall, was 40-5 in favor of Murdock.  The five dissenters were Lenore herself, her campaign manager (Ed Garza), Chmielewski, Denise Penn, and another woman near Denise.  I’m not asking Denise her rationale for her vote, because the mere fact of it makes me so sad.

COUNTY SUPERVISOR #4: Joe Kerr

First, a digression that will end up being the brunt of this story:

The Democratic Party has a new procedure that is designed to make it harder for us to end up with a “No Endorsement” vote, the rallying cry being that it is the party’s job to endorse.  I disagree — especially so long as party endorsement is combined with a rule that after a successful endorsement all members in party leadership fall into line.  (There is an apparent exception for when Loretta Sanchez runs against Kamala Harris, but I’ve never gotten a satisfactory explanation of it.)  I’ve been opposed to this notion because I think that sometimes the party shouldn’t endorse — especially when doing so pits the party against its activists on the ground.  (This race is, as I’ll note below, one of those times.)  I’ve been trying to explain why I believed that no longer letting No Endorsement be one of the options members could choose right out of the block was a poor choice, but hadn’t been able to muster a clear explanation.  Now I can.

Bottom line: Joe Kerr won.  I’m fine with Joe Kerr being our endorsed candidate — he’s smart, genuine, an absolute gentleman, a good Democrat, and has amassed enough campaign donations to be able to cheat against any of the Republicans.   But I see three problems with him.

  1. He’s a labor leader — in my opinion he’s tied for the best non-Latino labor leader I’ve seen in this county over the past decade, along with Rick Eiden and Eric Altman — who has negotiated some very healthy (from the workers’ point of view) labor agreements with the county.  In its own terms, that’s fine — a labor leader is a noble profession providing a needed service, as is being an abortionist.  But in practical terms I have doubts about how well that professional will go over here in a quite illiberal part of the county dominated by Yorba Linda and Fullerton.  (Actually, I don’t have much doubt about how people around here will feel about that, my doubt is as to whether Kerr’s geniality and thoughtfulness will be able to overcome that obstacle in a retail campaign.  My only answer, given that he’ll clearly be the leading Democratic vote-getter, is: I hope so!)
  2. Joe is at least arguably (I’m hedging that much because I don’t want to quibble) a carpetbagger.  Unlike some people who you’ll no doubt see taking part in our comments, I believe that he does now legitimately live in the district, and I believe that he has some real roots here.  But I also believe that his years of recent residency in south county mean that he’s going to face trouble against Tim Shaw or even (God forbid) Lucille Kring.
  3. Joe is not the activists’ choice.  (He’s the choice of Young Dems, sure, but I am referring to long-term and experienced campaign-oriented activists.)  My priority in my home area this June, well over this Supervisor’s race, is the retention of State Senator Josh Newman.  The endorsement means that Joe’s name will be on our DPOC literature — and if that sours activists on hanging out party literature touting Josh — I’m going to be beyond pissed.  Two of the other candidates, La Habra officeholders  Cynthia Aguirre and Rose Espinoza, are activist favorites.  Telling activists that they have to hand out literature for Joe — and that if they’re members of the county central committee, the state central committee, and acting as part of a club (the largest of which is Democrats of North Orange County), they can’t support anyone but Joe without being at risk of removal from those positions — is stupid to the point of being politically suicidal.  Joe Kerr is arguably WORSE OFF with the endorsement than without it because of the frustration it will cause with many of the long-term activists whom he would need — and would be more likely to help him in November if they didn’t feel like they were being denied their ability to follow their consciences now.  (The notion that being heavy-handed can be bad is almost completely foreign to party regulars.)

HOWEVER, all of that aside, one argument did convince me that Joe is probably the best nominee: he has raised gobs of money and Rose and Cynthia have raised very very little.  (Hey, it matters!  Tim Shaw is historically more successful in La Habra than either Rose or Cynthia, will be loaded.)  So while my preference without taking that fact into consideration would have been the very smart and active Cynthia, then probably  Rose (my concern about her being that, while successful in La Habra itself due to her longstanding good reputation there, she tends to be a feckless fundraiser and campaigner) over Joe (due to the “fit with the district” factors above), I could easily accept the result — Joe won by something like 88% of the vote.  I just wish that it were closer, because didn’t want it to alienate good and badly needed activists by needlessly insulting his competitors.

So I had planned to vote for No Endorsement.  When the time came, though, I found that the only way to do that when it mattered was to support one of his competitors to reduce the likelihood of his getting 60% — because if the vote was overwhelming it would be obvious that he would get the endorsement when next pitted against No Endorsement.  On the other hand, if Joe did poorly, I would have no need to support his competitors, as the number of abstentions would have made the point that the preferences of local activists were not being disrespected.

(The far less complex procedural alternative to what I’m describing, by the way, is SIMPLY TO PUT THE OPTION OF “NO ENDORSEMENT” UP FRONT AS AN ALTERNATIVE OF EQUAL STATUS TO SUPPORTING ANY CANDIDATE.  That, to me, would have satisfied the obligation I felt to local activists, and I would have happily supported or even made a motion to make it an endorsement by acclamation once that had been registered.)

Anyway, Cynthia came up for her vote first — and I didn’t support her yet because I didn’t yet know how well Joe would do.  Then Joe came up for his vote — and he won the vast majority of the votes.  So, OK: Joe would obviously get the endorsement; my remaining interest was to salvage some pride and recognition for the local activists.  The remaining choices were Rose and Fullerton police-fetishist Doug Chaffee — whom I had been told last year had become a Republican, which I didn’t check out because it would have meant having to think again about Doug Chaffee — who entered the race late and, I personally suspect, at the behest of police who want pathetic Republican police-stater Lucille Kring to make the runoff against Tim Shaw.

So, preferring Cynthia, I had to vote for Rose, because after Kerr’s vote she was the only way for me to register support for local activists.  (Chaffee got no votes, which is a pretty good prediction, rounded to the nearest thousand, for the primary as well.)  Having done my part for activists, I voted for Joe in the final vote against “No Endorsement” — because, unlike Doug Chaffee, all things considered he’s still someone worth getting behind.

Now here’s the cost of not having a “No Endorsement” option up front, as there has previously been and should now be.  What we as a party would LIKE to happen now is for Cynthia and Rose to drop out of the race.  (Doug won’t drop out because he’s only in it to bleed off Democratic votes.)  But they won’t do so if they think that they didn’t get a fair shake.  With a No Endorsement option present from the start, I would have voted for it and perhaps the others who ended up voting for Cynthia and Rose would have as well — because the point to be made was “don’t ignore the will of local activists!” rather than “we favor one of these women who won’t possibly have the money to compete.”

In other words, with a No Endorsement option, it’s possible that it would have gotten all of the anti-Kerr votes, and Cynthia and Rose would have gotten NO Democratic votes — and it would thus have been much easier to convince to drop out.  Until she hears about this post, Rose is probably counting my vote — which, had the order of their speeches been reversed, would have gone to Cynthia rather than her! — as a reason for her to stay in the race.  (It’s not one, Rose!  Drop out!  Don’t let Kring into the second slot through the back door; I don’t want to have to vote for Tim Shaw!)

By trying to suppress dissent — in this case by making it overly difficult for voters to object to the notion that the party has some responsibility to give its learned opinion to the public (and to then stifle any opposition to its choice among party members and clubs) — the Democratic Party shoots itself in the foot.  Fervent Party members literally don’t see this because they spend most of their political time talking to other party members who are bound to agree that the most important thing for that voter to do is to unquestioningly take orders from the party.  It perverts one’s perspective.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party — not as quickly as the Republican Party, but more than quickly enough — is sliding downhill in terms of public respect and affection.  The arrogance of thinking that it is our right and proper role to tell the people how to vote, even given internal conflicts, because we’ve studied the race and know the candidates better — is I believe a big reason for this.  What being in the party does is allow you to meet the candidates, who try to form personal relationships with you, and largely to convince you that a vote for them is good for you personally, and to get your peer group (some of which have campaign positions and possibly a promise of positions if someone is elected) to pressure you to vote for their candidate.  Yes, we’re aware of candidate endorsements — and the more aware of us are also aware that those endorsements are largely a function of which consultant a candidate has hired, because that consultant can get all of his or her clients to endorse each of their other clients, and if you didn’t know that endorsements get done that way, rather than based upon the sober consideration of the relative merits, don’t you feel a bit sick right now? — but it is those personal relationships, the “being in the trenches together” if this were real battle rather than its simulacrum, that turn people’s heads.

Now I can see that people want to deliver endorsement votes on behalf of the friends who are urging them and the candidates who are currying them, but really — once you know how the sausage is made, is there really any reason to think that parties are obliged to give their endorsements to the public because of their greater knowledge of the candidates?  If this were the means of deciding which songs would be played on the radio, people would be getting arrested over it.

We need the chance to object to the entire process and vote “no endorsement” outright, rather than pretending until the end that we are supporting a particular other candidate in order to reduce the percentage of the vote that the frontrunner gets.

Final thoughts:

It’s a good slate — and a big step up from what we’ve had in the past.  Four year’s ago I and someone I recruited, candidate for Assessor Jorge Lopez, became the first two Democrats to even seek countywide office since Tom Daly was Clerk.  Now we have three running for office — and at least one of them, Murdock, has a legitimate pathway to victory.  This growth — more so than what proportion of our electorate voted for a former First Lady over a sociopathic deluded carnival barker — will be the real sign of Democrats reaching towards parity in OC.

[2] The view from the Red Corner

Meanwhile, in GOPistan, Fred Whitaker has some words for Democrats to pin on their bulletin boards:

MARCH CHAIRMAN’S BRIEFING

The filing deadline has passed for the June primary and we now know the field for June 5th.

We long anticipated a tough fight and while the recent retirements brought some new challenges, we also see great opportunities to lay the groundwork for victory come November.

In Congressional Districts 39 and 49, we will compete with a large field of Democrat candidates to get one, and possibly two, Republicans into the general election. The polls are showing that this is a real possibility and the Democrats are in a panic. Their dream to flip the House of Representatives might just shatter in June and I want to make sure it does!

Success will largely depend on the turn out to recall Senator Josh Newman for his disastrous vote for the Gas Tax. The recall of Josh Newman will not only help end the failed Democrat supermajority in Sacramento but it will give Republicans the turnout to ensure two Republicans go to November in Congressional 39.

I ask you to join us on Thursday April 5th for a rally to recall Josh Newman at 2 PM with special guests KOGO’s Carl DeMaio and KFI’s John and Ken at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim. You can RSVP to attend by clicking …

We will also continue to work tirelessly to ensure Representatives Mimi Walters and Dana Rohrabacher are reelected to Congress, defeat Sharon Quirk-Silva in Assembly District 65 and hold our 5-0 majority on the Board of Supervisors.

This is why we have partnered with the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and California Republican Party to open field offices across Orange County. Our Yorba Linda field office has been up and running for months. The Irvine and San Clemente field offices are ready to open. This is the collaboration and coordination we need to win.

Sincerely,

Hon. Fred Whitaker
Chairman, Republican Party of Orange County


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.)