Correa going it virtually alone again – but don’t underestimate him

Correa going it virtually alone again – but don’t underestimate him

Orange County Supervisor Lou Correa is once again taking on the Democrat establishment, and I have a feeling that he is not concerned at all. I spoke to Correa quite a bit, back when he first defeated Republican Jim Morrissey, who had previously held the 69th Assembly District. At the time, which was in 1998, Correa did not enjoy much support from the Democrat establishment, which for the most part was enthralled with Loretta Sanchez, who had two years prior defeated Bob Dornan. Correa had run in 1996 as well, and his party figured he was going to turn into a perennial candidate. How wrong they were.

Back then, Morrissey was firmly plugged into the Orange County Republican political machine. He felt untouchable, but I know he was worried about Correa because of the changing demographics in Santa Ana and Anaheim. Morrissey went as far as to hire a Democrat political consultant, and his chief of staff was likewise a Democrat, but he could not out-Democrat Correa, who deftly talked to area voters about crime, health and education. Correa ulimately prevailed, although Morrissey spent a ton of money against him, and without much help from his fellow Democrats.

Correa backed a protege of his, Santa Ana Council Member Claudia Alvarez, in the last election for the 69th Assembly District, but carpetbagger Tom Umberg swept in from Villa Park and defeated Alvarez, who ran a terrible campaign. I know that did not sit well with Correa, and when Umberg blew it by cheating on his wife during his campaign, and the news of that leaked, the path was clear for Correa to get revenge for Alvarez by defeating Umberg for the 34th State Senate seat. As such, I was not surprised when Correa announced this week that he was running.

However, as has been pointed out at OC Blog, and within the pages of the Times and the O.C. Register, Correa has angered the public employees’ unions, who would have preferred that he stay on the O.C. Board of Supervisors. Moreover, they were already backing Umberg, and will continue to do so. Their mistake. Correa is very well-liked in Sacramento, and not just by his fellow Democrats. He is very popular with many business PACS and lobbyists, who view him as a moderate, particularly compared to the liberal Umberg. Correa will have as much money as he needs to prevail in the primary.

Locally, Correa’s fellow Democrats are not very happy about his State Senate campaign. Those who plan to stick with Umberg include Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, who has never been very warm to his fellow Latino candidates; State Senator Joe Dunn; and former Anaheim Mayor and current O.C. Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly. Umberg is also supported by current Democrat Assembly Leader Fabian Nunez and State Senator Richard Alarcon. Fools. They will be sorry, when Correa prevails. He will instantly become the frontrunner for the 34th, in the general, despite the presence of GOP conservative favorite Van Tran. And Correa will then stand a very decent chance of prevailing in the general election.

While I disagree with most of Correa’s views, which tend towards big government, I have come to know him quite well over the years. His sons have compteted against my oldest son in Santa Ana’s Little Leagues, and Correa and I have crossed paths in both Santa Ana and Sacramento countless times. He is one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet in politics, and his critics in the Democrat ranks do themselves no favor by counting him out this time around. Correa always finds a way to outlast his opponents, and in a few months Umberg will no doubt become the latest guy to understimate him. A word of warning to O.C. Democrats – get on Correa’s train now or you will be sorry. Guaranteed.

About Art Pedroza