Republican Underground OC Central Committee Recs

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PREFACE: Unfortunately, Republicans (in OC and beyond) don’t feel comfortable engaging in much open self-critique and stolid resistance in these days of  Trumpist Terror in their party.  But the dissidents in the party do have opinions — and we do have some longstanding lines of communications with them.  So you can consider this a series of endorsements — perhaps we should just call them “recommendations” — informed by what we might call the “Republican Underground.”  Make of them what you will, and good luck to the candidates who — despite our strong disagreements about civil rights — at least do value honesty.

Republican reformers whisper to us that Debra Pauley, Karina Onofre, and Katherine Daigle are among those hoping to bring needed reforms — especially against petty corruption– to the RPOC Central Committee.

OJB will, within a week, provide our list of endorsements for Democratic Party of Orange County Central Committee positions, one informed by other endorsements being offered elsewhere.  To warm up for that, we’re starting with endorsements for Central Committee Positions in the Republican Party of Orange County — which, sad to say, desperately needs some outside help. We’re not of the opinion that the opposition party should be led by its worst people, but that it should be led by it’s best, who will take on our own party’s ideas with intelligence and insight.

Endorsements of a candidate does not necessarily mean endorsement of all of their positions.  It means that they are the best of available choices.  If you’re choosing among Republicans, they’re overwhelmingly going to be opposed to abortion rights (at least abortions with which they’re not directly involved) and most of the time hostile to Muslims and Latinos as well.  We don’t like that — but that’s largely what the party stands for these days, so it cancels out among candidates.  Where candidates differ is on things like being and feeding greedheads, on taking climate change seriously, and on legitimately wanting society to take responsibility for care for the poor and the homeless.  These differences among party matter to Republicans, and to us non-Republicans as well.  On some issues like abortion we many never agree — but the point is to get reasonable people to the table from both sides, to at least figure out how to navigate our differences.

For our part, we don’t pretend that Democrats are immune to the corruption of absolute power, or that we have all of the answers, or that weaker and more questionable aspects of our beliefs and orthodoxies should categorically be unchallenged.  Intelligent and reasonable people of good will in both major parties (and minor ones) are well-positioned see the motes in the other’s eye, and should appreciate the help in finding the motes in their own.  The top editors here are Democrats because we think that we’re right in most cases where we clash with Republicans, but we recognize that in many cases — here more than most — the fight truly is not between left and right, but between right and wrong.  Two non-corrupt parties would be ideal, so we feel entitled to chime in from the sidelines.

Over time, non-Republican writers at OJ have formed some good lines of communications (and, admittedly, some bad ones) with Republicans, both on-site and off.  Many of the latter, for obvious reasons — heads on pikes, anyone? —  don’t want to announce their preferences in public.  Still, long experience and a little stealthy communication have given us a good idea of who’s honest and who isn’t, who has good values and who is simply self-interested or bigoted, who has that “civic courage” you’ve heard about and who’s cowardly and weak.

Based on that knowledge, we’ve gone through the list of OC’s seven Assembly districts to evaluate applicants for Central Committee positions on the Republican Party of Orange County from the viewpoint of Democrats who appreciate Republican allies in bipartisan efforts such as achieving a government that is:

  • neither self-serving nor contributor-serving
  • that dislikes fattening already bloated hogs, whether they be public or private persons or corporate entities
  • but that recognizes a governmental responsibility to take serious steps to protect the poor and sick and vulnerable and to avoid market failures like climate change.

For each Assembly District, we have a stated objective, usually one reflecting the views of our Republican informants.  Some picks are in earnest enthusiasm, some designed mainly to keep the worst of the GOP away from its controls.  Some — like racist but legitimately righteous in opposition to corruption Debra Pauly — because one great strength leads us to overlook other major flaws (from our perspective) that the opposing party is apparently devoted.  Generally, we’re guided by the opinions provided by the  “Republican Underground” that can’t or won’t speak for itself.

Vern and I disagree on at least one major issue with pretty much everyone on this list.  But, having gleaned opinions from our Republican friends and sources, to whom we hope to give voice here, they’re the people — civic-minded even if in our view often wrong — with whom we think honest Democrats can work with the make good policy.  No one — seriously, no one — has solicited a nod of support here and we won’t be offended if, seeing it, they disclaim it.  But they should understand that it’s mostly coming from the positive views of peers in their party, and is merely filtered through us.  It’s not their fault that they’re respectable.

Here’s the key:

  • Boldfaced names are our endorsements.  They may not appreciate being endorsed, but it is meant as a compliment: not because they are friendly to Democrats or us leftists, but because they represent their party honestly and well.
  • Bold underline names are our high-priority, most-earnest endorsements (even where we disagree with them about most policy issues).
    • Indented italic names in the list are the ones we most think don’t belong in RPOC office — frankly, for the good of the whole county and the Republican Party, if it wants to put forth its best.
  • *Asterisks* are people whom we think are incumbents, but with OC Political publishing so much less these days we’re not really sure.

Be sure to read the comments in italics after each list of candidates in order to understand our reasoning — and why we’re endorsing some people whose overall policies we don’t like as the best way to improve the local Republican Party.

READER COMMENTS WILL BE CLOSED HERE, BUT OPEN ON THIS SEPARATE PAGE!  We don’t want people to feel that there’s an advantage to trashing opponents here.  If anyone has anything really useful to say, we’ll open comments long enough to port it over here.  OK, ready?  Let’s go.


AD-55 (*=incumbent):

  • Gene Hernandez* (City Council?)
  • Craig Young (Attorney)
  • Tim Shaw (Councilmember)
    • Brett Barbre* (Water Board, Consultant)
  • Michael Navarro (Life Skills Coach)
  • Melissa Salinas (Lowell Jt. School District Bd.)
  • Rhonda Shader (Mayor, Businesswoman)
  • Elvira Moreno
  • Anthony Johnson (Legislative Field Rep.)

Comments: I don’t know or like most of the people I’m endorsing on this list.  (For example: I half-know and one-third-like Tim Shaw, and I wish he weren’t a lock to win a seat of the OC Board of Education due to Democratic vote-splitting.  But he clearly speaks for his party, which is what this vote is about, and he’s not the main priority to eliminate here.)

I’m looking for two main qualifications among the nine candidates for six seats on this list:

  1. That they are not public money-gulping Poseidon shill Brett Barbre
  2. That they have the best chance among those remaining to defeat Brett Barbre

I’ll just say that we have find substantial Republican support for these positions.  A lot of people really don’t like the Dave Ellis of the North.

Those first five boldfaced names are current or recent office-holders, so they’re somewhat likely to win.  Of the three other non-Barbres, I’d love to see the Life Skills Coach elected — I think he’d be useful — but this doesn’t seem like a qualification that Republicans would seek out.  (Next time, dude, try “Money Management Consultant.”  That’s a life skill too.)  The Latina who didn’t put in a ballot designation failed the basic test of running for office: put in a ballot designation.  Therefore, I’m going for the Legislative Field Representative.  (N.b.: If anyone out there has time to do a little research assignment on Barbre, and how much public money he’s privatized into his own pocket over the years, by which means and causes, please let me know.)

AD-65 (*=incumbent):

  • David John Shawver*
    • Baron Night*
    • Steve Sarkis*
  • Leroy Mills (Retired USAF Officer)
  • Cynthia Thacker*
  • James Waters (Retired Postal Worker)
  • Amy Fremen (Rehabilitation Healthcare Pro)
  • Bobby Florentz (Handyman)
  • Dewayne Allen Normand (Small Business Owner)
  • Nicholas Dunlap (OC Businessman/Parent)

Comments: The goal here is to get rid of Baron Night and Steve Sarkis — which we know MANY Republicans would like to do — without supporting Cynthia Thacker (who is running against Sharon Quirk-Silva for Assembly) or Leroy Mills (who lent his name to Ling Ling Chang for a nasty complaint against Josh Newman in the past.)  These criteria require me to endorse one of the incumbents; I decided on Shawver of Stanton: the late lamented Gus Ayer once praised him here.  If any GOP  reader want to weigh in, that last seat is not set in stone.)

I like the idea of a Rehab Healthcare Professional and a Handyman advancing in GOP politics, so they get the  underlining of special favor.

AD-68 (*=incumbent):

  • Fred Whitaker*
  • Austin Lumbard*
  • Todd Spitzer
  • Deborah Pauly*
  • Mark William Bucher*
  • Robert Walters (Businessman)     ARA-anti-corrupt
  • Benjamin Yu (City Commissioner)
  • Trevor O’Neil
  • Esther Koh
  • Deepak Singh Sahni
  • John Park
  • Scott “Rolling Thunder” Voigts
    • Denis Bilodeau (Water Board, Pension Sponge)
  • Ray Gennaway

Comments: The objective here is to make sure that Poseidon vote Denis Bilodeau loses, without endorsing Fred Whitaker, because I just can’t.  (Otherwise, I would endorse Gennaway, Park, Sahni, and Walters, along with Pauly and O’Neil, but I have to be serious here.)  Pauly is awful on social issues — you find me the non-Trumper here and I’ll consider them — but she also is critical of corruption, and willing to challenge her own party on it.  That sort of voice needs to be heard.  I’m not endorsing Spitzer because (and my tongue is not in cheek here) as I don’t think that he as District Attorney should be on any party’s Central Committee as a matter of principle — the same principle that leads him wisely not to endorse aspirants for non-judicial office —  but reasonable minds can disagree so if you vote for him I won’t get mad at you.  I’m not endorsing Rolling Thunder Voigts because I bet he can’t find a single citations anywhere where someone calls him “Rolling Thunder.”  So in addition to three incumbents I’ll endorse Koh, whom I believe has a record of service on the party; Yu, whom I don’t know; and O’Neil for behind-the-scenes reasons that I can explain to Republican Party figures privately and confidentially (or you can just ask him why, though he might not tell.)  As with Barbre in 55, if anyone wants to do a research assignment on Bilodeau, let me know.

AD-69 (*=incumbent):

  • Alberta Christy*
  • Tim Whitacre*
    • Thomas Anthony Gordon*
  • Cecilia Iglesias (Councilmember)
  • Lewis Adame (Retail Manager)
  • Gisela Contreras (Businesswoman)
  • Brian Harrington (Marketing Consultant)
  • Jon Paul White
  • Karina Onofre (Small Business Owner)

Comments: The objective here is (1) to unironically support Tim Whitacre, whom I’ve found to be an ethically decent political opponent who cares about the poor; (2) to unironically oppose Thomas Anthony Gordon, who is the lowest form of crass, crude, nasty, and alienating Trumpian troll, whom good Republicans should want not to speak for their party, as he lacks the redeeming qualities of a Debra Pauley (although if you want to make your party look bad, that’s up to you); and (3) to unironically support Karina Onofre, who is a nice young woman — much smarter than her detractors suggest — who was treated shabbily by the DPOC, for which opposing abortion fails a strict litmus test but cheating, stealing, pissing on the poor, and sexual assault (see former CDP Chair Eric Bauman) are not disqualifying.  I hope that she finds a good home in the GOP, though she’ll find its contempt for minorities galling.  She’s also in the wrong district if she ever wants to be elected to anything but this.  Republicans would probably prefer that I support Ceci Iglesias here … but I just can’t.  Sorry.

Of those not mentioned above, I chose the three who provided ballot designations.  Among the others, Brian Harrington and Jon Paul White have been recommended to me as people from whom I would recoil if I met them in person, but who ably and honestly lead the forces in the RPOC who oppose corruption.  Policing the ethics of one’s party is always a hard job, and if these are the guys who are doing it then they should be elected to this position.

AD-72 (*=incumbent):

  • Andrew Do (Supervisor)
  • Kermit Marsh*
  • Jeffrey Barke*
  • Peter Amundson (Small Businessman)
  • Patrick Harper (FV Councilman)
  • Austin Edsell (Small Businessman)
  • Amy Phan West (Entrepreneur)
  • Eva Weisz (Community Volunteer)
  • Russ Neal (Electrical Engineer)
  • Zack McCready (Business Owner/Attorney)
  • Gracey Van Der Mark
  • Brian Burley (Business Owner)

Comments: I’m not even going to identify by name the person who is the priority to keep off of the board here.  (It’s not Amy Phan West; she gets no nod because she’s running for office.) Let’s just say that if Republicans vote the opposite of how I recommend, they will have earned the White Power whirlwind that they will have sown.  Let’s see if they have any pride in their party remaining.  (Note: One reason I’m not endorsing Do is that he’ll win anyway, so this lineup increases the number of alternatives to the worst, party-soiling, choice.)

AD-73 (*=incumbent):

  • Laurie Davies (Laguna Hills Mayor)
  • Ed Sachs*
  • Mike Munzing (Aliso Viejo Mayor)
  • Lisa Bartlett* (Supervisor)
  • Greg Raths (Mission Viejo Mayor/Decorated Vet)
    • Diane L. Harkey (“Businesswoman”)
  • Nick Wilson (Property Manager)
  • DD Dominguez (Business Development Mgr)
  • Linda Kight (Commercial Property Mgr)
  • Art Sanchez (Realtor)
  • Jake Vollebregt (Businessmarine)
  • Candice Burroughs (Small Business Owner)
  • Elaine Gennawey (City Councilmember)
  • Shawn Gordon (Computer Consultant/Business)

Comments: Two personal and three policy goals guide us here.  First, Greg Raths is a decent Republican (wrong on many issues, right on most values) who should win this party office, though should not beat Katie Porter.  Second, Diane Harkey — who has the temerity to call herself a “Businesswoman” while so many defrauded investors still bear scars of dealing with her former company — should not win.  (I mean, Republicans can vote for her if they feel represented by the likes of her — but I hope that they don’t.  The purpose of this exercise — like the one I’ll do with Democrats — is to build a better and more honest party.)

Policywise, having supported decommissioning of San Onofre is a low bar to clear; opposition to extension of the toll roads is a higher one, and opposition to Poseidon, from which South County may benefit without being on the fiscal hook like most of the rest of the county, is the highest one.  We should probably send out a questionnaire on this one, but I doubt we will.

AD-74 (*=incumbent):

  • Beth Johns Holder (Exec. Mgr.)
  • Erik Wiegand*
  • Thomas “T.J.” Fuentes* (Famous Son)
  • Will O’Neill (Newport Beach Councilmember)
  • Ben Chapman (Entrepreneur)
  • Kelly Ernby (Deputy DA)
  • Katherine Daigle (Small Business Owner)
  • Diane Dixon (Mayor)
  • Emily Sanford (Retired Navy Nurse)
  • Jennifer Sterling (Small Business Owner)
  • Scott Peotter (Architect) 
  • Mike Posey (Councilman)
  • Alison Burchette (Software Sales Exec)
  • Mike Gasca (Restaurateur)
  • Barbara George (Business Owner)
  • Mike Glenn (Small Business Owner)

Comments: So many people!  There’s only one candidate on the list that OJB can happily endorse despite disagreement with her on many issues, and that’s Katherine Daigle.  She’s legit anti-corruption and adds some willingness to challenge authority to a party not much known for it.  We also expect that Republicans will vote for TJ Fuentes, son of Nixon assistant Thomas Fuentes, and he has been described to us as a good force for decency and wisdom within the party, so by all means let’s not see the tradition end — no matter what his father pulled.

On the other side, we have a Peotter in the works and that’s pretty much an automatic “no.”  And we have poisonous Poseidon shill Mike Posey to oppose.  But with only two incumbents running, how would we keep them out even if we wanted to?  We only have one Mayor here: Diane Dixon of Newport Beach, who’s selected by her peers for the position.  (Her opponent in the election, Mike Glenn, is also on the ballot.)  We’ll provisionally endorse both, as well as Will O’Neill from Newport Beach, because Republicans over-representing Newport Beach is just truth in labeling. No one complained to us about Erik Wiegand, so he’ll get our final provisional anti-Posey/Peotter nod.

Frankly, of all of the districts in OC, this one seems to matter least in this OCGOP  election.  It’s tempting to say that, Republicans being the party of unalloyed support for business, the six candidates who list themselves as Entrepreneur, Executive Manager, Small Business Owner, and Business Owner should be your choices, as they offer little information as to what they actually do.  But we might amend this later once we’ve given our readers and the candidates a chance to make their cases.

REMEMBER: Put your own comments OVER HERE!

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.)