OJB’s 2018 Primary Picks, Pt 1: Guv, Senate, BOE 4

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Vern’s quick answers: Chiang, De León, Dodson!

VERN:  I’ll do this up here, cuz what I write would be too hard to find below.  Because Greg is playing chess, whereas I’m just a simple soul, who will simply vote for the person I think is best and ALSO HAS HALF A CHANCE OF WINNING.

BOE first – Greg makes a compelling case for this Dodson fellow being the only one competent, experienced, and cognizant of what the fucking job actually is, which is a difficult question that has bedeviled many serious minds.  In an early Harkey piece of mine, I posited that the Board of Equalization must be “a sort of cold-storage place where a career pol goes to rest and recharge – while remaining on the public teat – until the time comes for their next heroic exploits” – a conclusion strengthened by our county’s most recent contributions, Michelle Steel and Diane Harkey.  But apparently there is or should be a lot more to it, and Dodson seems to have what it takes.  Well, you?  Whom do you think would Equalize best for Southern California?

SENATOR – Greg and I agree that of the two realistic possibilities, the fierce progressive De León is by far preferable to six MORE years of the warmongering corporatist DINO Feinstein.  But I think I’m more enthusiastic about Kevin than Greg is – I don’t want to wait till November to vote for Senator De Leon.  Among other things he is a huge middle finger from California to Trump, with his Sanctuary State thing, and also think how handsome, diverse, and young the Golden State Senatorial delegation will be.  But I also think it’s important for him to come through June with as many votes as possible, to help in his fundraising and momentum in the summer and fall.

We agree that John Chiang will be hands-down the best Governor of the top five running.  While Gavin is sitting atop the polls for now, we Californians have to decide who his opponent will be in November.  Think how sad it’ll be if we have to choose between the flaky Gavin and either the dirty corporatist Villaraigosa, the mediocrity Cox, or the utter pig Travis Allen.  No way!  We want Californians, in the fall, to have to choose between Newsom and Chiang.  Partly because (unlike with the senate race) I think our Republican brothers and sisters will easily conclude that the super-competent, honest, fiscally prudent Chiang is head and shoulders over Gavin (who seems to creep them out as much as Hillary and Pelosi do.)  Also, I’ve met him, and he really IS The Most Accomplished Man in California!

And now I give you… Greg!

David Dodson for Board of Equalization

Any Democrat or Independent (and probably Republican as well) who does not vote for David Dodson for 4th District Board of Equalization is a bleeding idiot.  Are we clear?


Your absentee “vote-by-mail” ballots are about to arrive in the mail, if that’s how you roll — and about a quarter of the vote comes by in the end of first weekend after they arrive — so: Welcome to OJB’s endorsements for the 2018 primaries, Governor, U.S. Senate, and Board of Equalization races.   (Yes, we will talk about other state Constitutional races, judges, and ballot measures, but in a separate post or two!)

For those of you new to our endorsement system, it’s different from those of most other publications, as befits our politically heterodox complement of writers.  Sometimes, we will present a single “choice of the publication” — for example, YES ON B (Irvine voters only), supporting the building of the proposed veterans cemetery at the “Strawberry Fields” site, as opposed to most likely nowhere at all — about which we will sometimes feel strongly enough that dissenting opinions will get relegated to the comments.

More often, Vern and I (Greg, who will be writing all of the commentary that is not marked as coming from someone else) will give our own opinions and invite others — our Republican writers Ryan and Cynthia, in recent years, although Cynthia may not want to participate due to her candidacy for Anaheim Mayor, and I think Ricardo and at least one other other contributor as well, though Vern and I haven’t yet discussed it– to express their choices and brief justifications “above the fold” as well.

This suits this blog’s role, in the Vern regime, as a place where reasonable people of all parties can discuss things reasonably (although sometimes we choose to do otherwise.)  There’s a Democratic tilt because Vern and I run the joint, but our Republicans and NPPs and third-parties, and anti-party people are more than able to fend for themselves.

A personal note: because I am a member of the state and local Democratic Central Committees, I cannot endorse against, or even advise against voting for, a party-endorsed candidate.  (It’s the price of staying in office and being an advocate for ethics, goodness, and sanity.)  I don’t have to favor anyone I don’t want to, though, and so in some races I will not endorse.  (That doesn’t affect this post, as there was no CDP endorsement for either Governor or Senate.  Chaos!)

Nasty anonymous attacks ain comments in frowned upon, and may be cut.  This is a respectable joint, y’hear!  Now, on to the offices.


Seven names appear to be at all in play here, if you trust the polls — and who doesn’t? — Democrats John Chiang, Delaine Eastin, Gavin Newsom, Amanda Renteria, and Antonio Villaraigosa, and Republicans Travis Allen and John Cox.  (You can find the entire list of candidates for this and other officers on pages 35-36 of your Voter Guide.)

Skeevy, lazy, but pretty opportunist Newsom is universally conceded to be a lock to make the top two, so the other candidates are competing to see who will oppose him.  The leading runners-up in polls have been Herbalife-shill Villaraigosa and wacky initiative proponent Cox — but the others above (except very likely Renteria and probably Eastin) are still in the game.  Allen, who is from OC, is best known for vending astoundingly scurrilous lies about the meaning of Democratic legislation, the latest be that they are trying to ban the bible.  (Seriously: if you believe that that’s even possible, you may as well mark your ballot in soy-based crayon and flush it down the toilet.)  Republicans, find someone on the list — there are a couple of Libertarians running too, if you’re bent that way — who isn’t a total asshole.  Or, if you’re a fiscal responsibility type who doesn’t mind tax money being used responsibly for good social programs, you can quietly vote for Chiang.  (It’s pronounced “Chung,” btw.)

Aside from those seven, the names you might want to know (especially if you’re not in a major party) to know are probably limited to ballot-statement purchasers Peter Liu and Robert Newman (Republicans), Akinyeme Agbede, J. Bribiesca and Michael Shellenberger (Democrats), Zoltan Istvan and Nickolas Wildstar (Libertarians), and Christopher Carlson and Josh Jones (Greens),  Gloria La Riva (Peace and Freedom), and Desmond Silveira and Johnny Wattenburg (NPPs).  OJB excuses you from knowing anything about any of the others: if you want our coverage, you buy a freaking ballot statement!

GREG’s pick for Governor: CHIANG:  

I’ve been torn for months between the brave, brilliant, competent, and stolid Chiang — who I’d always presumed I would support if he ran — and Eastin, a delightful, creative, intelligent, and passionate liberal favored by many fanatical progressive Democratic activists.  My take has been is that Eastin tends to over-promise that she’ll be able to deliver what activists want, while Chiang (unusually for a politician) tends to under-promise — not wanting to make promises he isn’t sure he can keep but pledged to do his level best to deliver what he can.  I find the latter position refreshingly ethical and appealing — and I’ve taken no end of crap for that among left-wing circles, which are no less delighted to be promised the moon than any other interest group.  The problem is that I don’t think that Eastin can deliver the moon — I think that lobbyists will use the legislature to stymie her initiatives, which would be especially easy given that now that the years have made her an outsider.   Chiang has been working with the legislature for years now, is quite popular there, and can work out sneaky ways to dismantle ad evade the roadblocks to good policy — including cutting government waste! — lurking there.  Especially after seeing SB-562 mired in legislative quicksand, which I think would get even muckier in response to an Eastin governorship, though she thinks he has the magic to prevent that, I think Chiang’s financial cred as a steward of sound policy is exactly what we need.

Eastin has cast herself in this race as a female Bernie Sanders and her theory of victory has been that she would stimulate a massive social movement and a flood of small contributions.  My position on progressive blogs has been that out of respect to her and her agenda I would not commit to the Chiang campaign, with which I had some strong connections, and was willing to wait to see if her theory was borne out.  And so I did.

Well, ballots are arriving, Chiang ads are on the air — and the verdict is in.  Eastin has not shown movement in the polls and she has not raised the money she would need to compete with Newsom.  I think that Eastin is wonderful, but my heart is content to follow my head and vote for Chiang, the Democrat who will make enough room in the budget that Republicans needn’t squeal and Democrats needn’t be disappointed.  It’s a tough task, but he’s the best chance to make it happen.


Four-term incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein, who will turn 85 before the November election, apparently wants to stay in office until she dies — unless it can be arranged for her to stay in office even after she dies, and if anyone has the wealth and connections to make that happen, it’s her.  But despite some surprising positions, such as willingness to treat interests of Palestinians as against Israel fairly in some situations, she has not been a reliable Democratic vote (and less so a leader) when it has counted most.  She’s not as bad as her critics from the left say she is — she’s more of a giant missed opportunity than an implacable enemy of progressivism — but she’s nowhere near as good or as effective of a Senator as the Great Blue Golden State could elect.  (While some on the left and the right and elsewhere on and off the spectrum would disagree with me, I think that Kamala Harris far better fits that description.  Let’s not focus our commentary on that, though.)

I don’t wish to insult anyone by analyzing the Democratic challengers first, but to do anything else would be burying the lede, because the Republicans haven’t put up anyone of even Deborah Pauley quality.  OC has scores of current and former city council members who could have stomped this whole GOP field.

If we want to find out who’s a real threat, but we don’t want to do more than consult the ballot guide, Wikipedia, and Ballotpedia (and for state races we definitely do not, unless Tom Daly is going to pay us for it), we start in three places: fundraising, endorsements, and who has a ballot statement.  I’m not going to look into these candidates’ fundraising — maybe a commenter we’ll step forward, in which case it will be added here with credit to them — but I’ll do the others.

Democratic Challengers for U.S. Senate

Feinstein’s main competition comes from fellow Democrats, primarily State Senator Kevin de León, with minor competition (all from the party’s “further left”) from Democrats Alison Hartson, Pat Harris, and David Hildebrand.   Non-competitive Democrats who bought ballot statements include Douglas Howard Pierce (who seems to be a freelance crime-solver and whose ballot statement is probably a reasonably cost effect ad, and  Herbert Peters, who is a conservative, anti-abortion, anti-tax. anti-minimum-wage, anti-inflation (read “hard money/anti-credit”), entirely anti-interventionist.  In other words, a Trumpian faking his political identity.  Don’t read his screed unless that warms your heart.

Feinstein bought a ballot statement, which means that she accepted the campaign spending limits,  which is a requirement for having one — and which neither Newsom, Villaraigosa, or Chiang did in the Governor’s race.  Given Feinstein’s wealth, this may seem a little shocking until you realize that de León accepted them as well — so at worst she put herself on an equal footing with him.  De León and Hartson did as well; the other “H” candidates did not.  So don’t expect a barrage of ads for this race, which is wonderful!

  • Feinstein has endorsements from Joe Biden, Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Eric Garcetti, Alan Lowenthal and at least 25 of his Democratic Congressional colleagues plus Republican Doug Ose, plus  organizations including Emily’s List and the Human Rights Campaign.
  • DeLeón has endorsements from  zillionaire Tom Steyer, four “ethnic” Democrats in the House (Ro Khanna, Lou Correa, Jimmy Gomez, and Raul Grijalva), state and local representative including Josh Newman, Toni Atkins, and Jane Kim, and a bunch of pretty progressive organizations including Democracy for America and several labor unions.
  • Hartson has the endorsement of “The Young Turks” political entrepreneur Cenk Uygur and mostly people around him.
  • Harris has the endorsement of a couple of Democratic clubs.  He’s also raised a lot of money — much less than DeLeón, but he has about half of the cash on hand, far more than Hartson.
  • Hildebrand is clearly the Berniecrat candidate, endorsed by various individuals (many of whom I know but you probably wouldn’t and whom I like and you already know whether you do based on the above), several chapters of Berniecrat’s institutional organization “Our Revolution,” etc.  His fundraising totals are meager even compared to the other “H”s.

[Note: my own comments on the Democrats (one of whom I’ll support)  are below.]

Republican Challengers for U.S. Senate

As for fundraising, endorsements, and ballot statement:  I’m not going to look into these candidates’ fundraising — maybe a commenter we’ll step forward, in which case it will be added here with credit to them — but I’ll do the others.

  • Paul A. Taylor has a 17-word ballot statement (he’s an entrepreneur) without a photo or reference to a website.  I wonder what that cost him.
  • Jerry Joseph Laws has a two-word ballot statement — one of them “constitutionalist” and the other his website, which also appears at the bottom of the page.
  • John “Jack” Crew — who somehow didn’t call himself “J. Crew” for the extra name recognition, has a seven-word ballot statement.  (Five if you treat “abortion-on-demand” as one word.)
  • Erin Cruz has a 17-word ballot statement.  The first four are — and this is the actual punctuation used — are “Less Tax, Less, Regulation”.  This suggests a pretty impressive lack of willingness to proofread something being sent to all voters in the state.
  • Kevin Mottus  has an approximately 300-word statement from which I infer he is very much opposed to 5G cell towers and their “microwave poison.”  That’s more than seven times longer than all of the other Republican ballot statements combined.  (Whether that recommends him or not may depend on whether or not they were paying by the word.)  As people may recall, I’m a big advocate of using ballot statements to push activist issues — as I did with my 2012 ballot statement for Water Board, opposing the nefarious Poseidon desalination ripoff — so I salute Mottus for wasting our collective time for what he believes is a good cause.  (You don’t have to read it, though if you do you’ll get the general point really quickly.  But there are soooooooooo many additional details to know!)

Republicans not getting ballot statements include Arun BhumitraJames BradleyRocky De La Fuente, Patrick Little, and Tom Palzer.  Wisdom or folly?  I can’t say.

Wikipedia says that Cruz is endorsed by the California Republican Assembly (which probably makes her the front-runner) as well as the leader of Latinos for Trump and OC’s own Shastina Sandman.  Little has the endorsement of über-racist Klan figure David Duke (which definitely makes him anathema.)  [Note: Undecided  NPPs and Democrats, DO NOT cast your votes for Little to put him into the runoff.  It’s seriously NOT funny.]  Those are the only endorsements listed by Wikipedia — which, I remind you, anyone can edit!

NPP and Third-Party Challengers for U.S. Senate

So that leaves us four NPPs and a Peace and Freedom, none of whom will win  We’ll mix them together here.

  • Libertarian Derrick Michael Reid might seriously outpoll all of the Republicans once they’re done splitting the “uh, I dunno, I’ll pick some Republican, I guess” vote.  He writes like an obsessed blogger — which I don’t mean to say is not OK — but just that if HB’s Lee Olson below had identified himself as a Libertarian two he’d probably get more votes.
  • Peace and Freedomista John Thompson Parker dislikes capitalism intensely.  Have you noticed that some races have multiple Green Party candidates but only one P&Fer?  If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between the two leftist parties, that seems to be it: ironic respect for party discipline!  No Greenie in this race, though, although the “H” Democrats are closer to that bill than Parker is.
  • NPP Tim Gildersleeve, a Christian defender of unions, the poor and downtrodden.  Mention neither reproductive nor “of the unborn” rights.
  • NPP Don Grundmann hates transgender people so much that he devoted his whole ballot statement to bashing them, which doesn’t raise my suspicions about his private issues at all!  He seems either to be Chair of the Constitution Party or lying about it.  He also seems to dislike taxes.
  • NPP Ling Ling Shi runs “for God’s Heart and America’s challenge.”  She wants the 2016 vote nullified by the SCOTUS, then a do-over, so as to “challenge 10 giant chaos” in U.S. economic related sectors.  And she’ll still be the more sensible “Ling Ling” on North Orange County ballots!
  • NPP Jason Hanania will vote as Californians direct him to do via an Internet Evoting system using decentralized blockchain security.   So if that’s what you’ve been looking for, you’ve found it.  (Why do I think that he’ll get a higher percentage of votes from OC than any other county?)
  • NPP Lee Olson is from Huntington Beach and favors the “Life Paradigm” of “Freedom, Peace and Prosperity for all” against the Death Paradigm of “Slavery, War and Poverty for all but the Special Interests.”  He also wants “Government out of our Wallets and our Lives.”  By Huntington Beach political standards, he seems pretty sane, although someone might want to let him know that he’s a Libertarian.

GREG’s U.S. Senate pick: Hildebrand Now, DeLeón Later  

I’m very practical when it comes to my picks.  I know that voting serves more than one purpose, that sometimes they conflict, and that when they conflict it sometimes makes sense to prioritize one purpose over another.

I want to see the most progressive (at least up to a point short of lunacy, which is usually no problem for any OC candidate with a chance in hell of winning) in each district.  So one of my interests is wanting to win, but another is that I also want to influence the Democratic Party, and the wider culture, to move towards the left, towards scrupulous ethics, and towards fiscal responsibility, because that’s where I think that the actual policy solutions that we need exist.  So that’s why I supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary, voted for the Green Party’s Jill Stein in the general election — to “represent” as a part of the reformist Left — but also wanted Hillary to defeat Trump and BEGGED my friends in swing states to vote for her while taking solace that I was casting a safe vote, for them, in California.

(Yes, I did talk several out-of-state friends — including in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — into voting for Hillary despite their not wanting to, telling them that if they wanted to be able to vote their conscience they had to move to a state that was either safely Blue or safely Red.  And most of you probably didn’t, in part because you tended to be too insufferable to admit that there were any legitimate reasons to dislike Hillary, so you turned people right off.)

I mention this because I feel the same way about this race.  While Dianne Feinstein is no Donald Trump, by any means, she’s also not the sort of energetically reformist Senator that California needs and deserves.  (This is more a matter of temperament and ideology than age; she’s not that much older than Bernie.)  Only one potential opponent can beat her — and that’s Kevin DeLeón.  BUT, while DeLeón is a decent guy — and while he has support from great progressives like Jane Kim, Raul Grijalva, Ro Khanna, and — yes — Tom Steyer too — supporting him also sends no message that shifts the political spectrum.  He’s the choice of anti-progressive Latino moderates like Lou Correa for demographic reasons; he’s the choice of his former flock in the State Senate because they owe him.  My vote doesn’t come labeled “I’m doing this because I’m a progressive!”  Coming from OC, it probably would be interpreted as “I stand with Lou Correa!”  So if I want to help steer the party towards what I think is morality and sanity, I would best do something else.

As an aside: that’s why DeLeón’s endorsement by my local favorite Josh Newman doesn’t much move me here: Josh might well support DeLeón anyway, but his endorsement was assured by the fact that he owes the guy a lot of gratitude: without DeLeón’s help, he wouldn’t have won.  I expect that even Feinstein understands that Newman, whose fate now largely rests in the hands of  DeLeón supporter Senate Leader Toni Atkins, MUST endorse DeLeón.  Unlike some leftist purists, I recognize that this transactional politics is part of the price of power — a price that I don’t pay because I have never really cared about electoral success.  (What I care about is being able to kick people in the ass when they need it — and in OC the need is endless and the courage to “kick upwards” other than for pay is almost negligible.  If I lived in Humboldt County, I’d be considered a “realist” scold for my Chiang-like aversion to happy-talk unrealistic bullshit and purism towards candidates in tough positions.  That’s why I think OC is a great place for a progressive activist — there’s so much more potential gain per quantum of effort, so long as you don’t mind being hated by assholes and cowards.)  What DOES move me is DeLeón’s endorsement by people like Reps. Grijalva and Khanna, who are in the business of trying to steer people in the direction I think is needed, but who can’t throw away their credibility by endorsing a certain loser like David Hillebrand or one of the other “H”s.  Doing that sort of think is MY job, not THEIRS!)

(Do you get how politics really works?  It’s chess, not checkers.)

If I had ANY real doubt that DeLeón will come in second to Feinstein and thus make the Top Two, I would put aside those considerations and support him in the primary.  (I as more polling comes in, I might still see the need to do so.  This is why I don’t vote until late in the voting period.)  If a Republican or a sure loser were to take the second spot, then my prime purpose of seeing the best candidate elected would be frustrated.  But I have no real doubts.  DeLeón is consistently running second in every legitimate poll, well ahead of third place — except for two.  One Berkeley poll gives 10% to DeLeón’s 11% to a  Republican candidate. Laguna Beach’s James Bradley, who hasn’t raised a dime.  (If you want to know how that happened, this LA Times piece analyzes it — and it turns out to be an artifact of crappy polling technique, which will not occur in the election itself, combined with GOP voters’ xenophobia.)  The other is a SurveyUSA poll that gives white supremacist Patrick Little 18% of the vote, knocking DeLeón down to a tie for third with perennial candidate Rocky De La Fuente at 8% — but this is reported on Wikipedia so I’m not even sure that the poll exists, let alone that it’s being reported accurate.  (Yes, I could check.  So could you.  Let me know what you find.)

I’ll continue watching the polls to see whether DeLeón continues to look like a lock for second — as I think is almost inevitable.  Presuming that he is, then it’s much like voting for Stein in a state that Hillary was a mortal lock to win: with the outcome all-but-certain, this is a situation where I can have my cake and eat it too.  Post primary, I will try to lead fellow Hildebrand (and other “H”) voters — “my people” — to switch to DeLeon.  That’s what he will need to win.

So, if a protest vote to represent the left is safe to cast — who’s the lucky “H”?

Hartson strikes me as essentially a vanity candidate for her boss or patron (I’ve heard both, can’t tell which, and it’s not really important to me to know) Cenk Uyger of The Young Turks.  I like him for the most part, but his political success is not my main concern.  If we hadn’t had almost a quarter-century of two female Senators, I might tilt her way — but we have.  (And she doesn’t match up that well against Feinstein, as she would against an incumbent like, oh, Jerry Brown — for that very reason.  It’s not like Eastin or Renteria in the Governor’s race.)  I see no policy reason to support her.

Between Harris and Hildebrand, I’m pretty equivocal.  But that choice doesn’t matter, because I know — even hope, given that they wouldn’t have a prayer against Feinstein — that they’re going to lose.  So I DON’T CARE that Harris has raised more money than Hildebrand; in fact, if he keeps it, maybe he can run for some nice local race in November, or pass it along to candidates who can use it.  Electability is completely a non-issue here in this choice.

What matters is: what vote sends the right message as to in which direction the party should steer?  And votes for Hildebrand clearly send  that message most clearly.  If the question to be answered is “how many leftist reformers are there in the Democratic Party?”, Hildebrand’s vote total gives the sharpest and clearest answer.

But hey — maybe you’re a leftist reformer who hates Bernie and/or the head of Our Revolution, Nina Turner!  OK, then vote for Hartson, if you hate Bernie because you think he’s misogynist or some other crap, or if you totally love Cenk Uyger. -(Good luck keeping clear which message you mean to convey! ) And vote for Harris if you hate Bernie for some other reason.  It doesn’t much matter: It’s All Good.  Literally — a vote for any of them is good, so just don’t let the choice distract you.  (This is a great time to role a die — Harris if it’s a 1 or 2, Hartson if it’s a 3 or 4, and Hildebrand if it’s a 5 or 6.  Unless you’re trying to convey a specific message, it seriously matters that little!)

And if you think that your vote needs to narrow the gap between Feinstein and DeLeón, then go ahead and vote for DeLeón right now.  DeLeón is going to be digging himself out of a huge hole either way, and whether the vote totals show that he “needs the Left to win” or “can ignore the Left” (which is essentially the choice of messages that your vote for him versus an “H” sends), he definitely needs the Left to win either way.  (Look at those endorsements!)  So long as you vote for DeLeón in the fall, it doesn’t matter so much what you do in the spring.

I want to end this part by arguing against a reason people may have to NOT vote against DeLeón: that they’ve really wanted this seat to go to Dave Jones, or Betty Yee, or Xavier Becerra, or Tom Steyer, or whomever else has your heart.  STOP IT!  DeLeón has earned the right to be elected to the seat because he’s the only one who had the guts to try.  And, frankly, if Feinstein dies in office, then the favorite for the election will be whoever the Governor appoints as a temporary steward for the seat.  And if it’s Newsom, than the person he appoints will probably be himself.

Newsom without term limits?  No thanks!  We need Feinstein out before that happens — and so we need DeLeón to win this race.  Reps. Grijalva and Khanna think that he’s good enough — and that’s good enough for me!


You know that you’ll forget about the poor BOE race if we don’t put it here, so that’s what we’re doing.  There’s a clear difference in the candidates here and there’s a chance to remake the BOE.  So pay attention to those statements in your voter guide, because this is big and the best candidate is an underdog.

In this race you have three Democratic and four Republican candidates in a seat that always goes Republican — but now that most of its powers have been stripped by the legislature.  Let’s mix it up and do the Republicans first,  then the Dems.

The two Republicans without ballot statements, James Stieringer and Nader “The Balm of” Shahatit, will not receive further consideration or discussion — but if you are voting Republican and want to throw away your vote on a candidate whose awfulness is at least still unknown to you, then there they are for your approval.  Maybe they have websites.  But I doubt it.

John F. Kelly (Republican)

Kelly is a Tustin businessman who inveighs against the Board being a haven for “recycled, career politicians.”  (You hear that, Michelle Steele, D. Parrish, and Diane Harkey?  He’s talking about YOU!)  His argument is that as a brick-and-mortar retailer he knows the most about suffering under tax obligations — and I’ll grant that he probably knows more about real life at this point than his cosseted party opponent former Sen. Joel Anderson.  But not only does he fearmonger about Prop 13, he claims to “offer a golden promise to be honest” and refers to himself as “Honest John.”  Hopefully this smarm is disgusting enough that enough Republicans will swallow it greedily to keep Anderson out of office.

Joel Anderson (Republican)

He’s the choice of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.  He’s received awards from Military groups while in the legislature. And he clearly has NO IDEA WHATSOEVER OF WHAT THE BOE EVEN DOES NOW THAT MOST OF ITS POWERS HAVE BEEN STRIPPED.  He’s a joke — one might say a “recycled career politician” — looking for a cushy government paycheck until his next term limit is up.  But the BOE still has important work to do — so we should not elect this clown who may be in synch with the south-of-LA anti-tax zeitgeist that is IRRELEVANT TO WHAT THE BOE NOW DOES, but someone who understands it and has passion and expertise for the job.  You won’t have to wait long to read about him.

David Dodson (Democrat)

He’s a Dana Point resident, and he’s presented himself so well that I’m not even going to bother trying to summarize it.  Republicans, forgive him his party registration and choose the most qualified candidate, because here he is:

The Board of Equalization oversees county assessors and the property tax system.  I have worked passionately for twenty-five years with the Board of Equalization protecting taxpayer rights.  Just this year, the legislature saw fit to limit the Board of Equalization’s responsibilities to only property tax administrationProperty tax administration is my life’s work.  The Board of Equalization is known as a place for termed-out career politicians.  Instead, you deserve a representative on the board that has experience and expertise to guarantee you are treated fairly and respectfully.  Experience counts!

[My emphasis throughout, by the way.]

GAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!  What sort of idiot Democrat would run against such a guy who knows what he’s doing with the new BOE and can do it well?  Well, two of them, actually.  Read on.

Ken Lopez Maddox (“Democrat”)

Again, I’m going to include his entire ballot statement for this intricate property tax administration position:

I will stand up to corporate special interests.  No special deals for big polluters.  Pro woman [sic], pro worker [sic], and anti Trump [sic].




Mike Schaefer (“conservative Democrat, respected for fairness…”)

I’ll just summarize with bullet points, with commentary interspersed:

  • “Best educated.  Most experienced.”
  • “UC Berkeley, Notre Dame, USC, San Diego State, Georgetown Law”
  • “Official of city, county, state, and federal government”
  • “Prosecutor, Councilman, SEC, California securities investigator”
  • “Member Board of Public Health” [sic]

(Does any of this suggest relevant experience to you readers so far?)

  • “Experienced successful challenger to excess real estate valuations before Boards of Equalization.”

Uhhhh … what?   I’ve successfully challenged a couple of valuations before the County Assessor, but what does “experienced successful challenger” even mean — and why is “Boards of Equalization” plural?  Does he know what he’s talking about?

  • Endorsed in prior elections by Police Officers Association, County Sheriffs

My emphasis there.  “Prior elections.”  Also: GAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! 

  • “Endorses Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association”

So at least there’s one endorsement.  It’s just not of him.

  • “competitive major businessman”

Errrmmm, what?

  • “Frequent speaker at civic groups”
  • “Active Catholic leader”

Nice!  Now here’s where it goes off of the rails:

  • “Successful son in management of Coachella Music Festival meeting a Beatle and Rolling Stones”
  • Has worked with leaders from
    • Dr. Suess [sic] to Dr. Salk
    • Governors Brown & Brown to Reagan
    • performers from Bob Hope to boxing icon Archie Moore
    • LL Cool J, classmate Frank Zappa, Debbie Reynolds

The worst hiring interview I ever experienced conducting in academia involved something like this spew.  I stopped listening closely soon after I had made my judgment about hiring, not long into the interview, but I do recall one of my more acerbic and sadistic colleagues leaning forward toward the candidate at one point and asking “What IS it that you THINK that this job DOES?”

That’s sort of my reaction to being told that his son met rock royalty while helping manage Coachella and that Frank Zappa was his classmate.  “Yoo-hoo!  “Supervising Assessors.”  That’s what this job does.  Any thoughts on that?”

  • “We must be vigilant that government at all levels protects homeowner and small businessman.”

“Yes, indeed, so true.  But what specific expertise do you have to ensure that that will hap– ?”

  • “Responsible for randomized non-alphabetical listing of candidates names on all California ballots”


“Pardon me.  Sinuses.  Thank you for your time, Mr. Schaefer.  And do you think that you can get me Moon Unit’s autograph?”

One thing, though: at least his primitive-looking website, equalization4.org, has one good nugget:

“Mike’s opponent Joel Anderson has raised $290,000 for his upcoming 2020 campaign for San Diego County Supervisor!  Just why is he on BOE ballot in 2018 for a four year term?”  Mike Schaefer will serve 4 years+, Protect Prop. 13, minimize taxes.  He’s a conservative Democrat, respected for fairness.”

“You know, that’s a pretty good question for Sen. Anderson.  Thanks for that!”

GREG’s BOE #4 pick: Dodson, Dodson, and Only Dodson 

Seriously — we’ve had enough wackiness in our own Assessor’s office, between Webster Guillory and Claude Parrish — as much regarding office procedures and internal investigations as equity in assessments — that we should actually CARE  who wins this election and really focuses in, finally and entirely, on their supervision.  One Democrat is supremely qualified, two are … supremely NOT ….  One Republican has no apparent appreciation that this is now just about property taxes rather than sales and income tax for small businesses and the like, and the leading Republican contender looks like the poster boy for having do-nothing, know-nothing, schlumps parked in this office for the payday and benefits.  GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

This is clear.  It could not be more clear.  WHATEVER your party, you should vote for David Dodson for BOE District 4 and send a message to the state that we are NOT idiots and to future candidates that THIS IS A REAL JOB!


More on other races — probably other state offices and the ballot measures — as early as tomorrow.  Stay tuned — and don’t vote too early!  Watch us as we watch the polls for you!

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) 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. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. 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. One of his daughters 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.)