Van Tran is playing it smart, but Janet may not need his help

Tran is playing it smart, but Nguyen may not need his help

The Flash Report and OC Blog are reporting that Van Tran, the leading candidate for the 34th State Senate District, is not going to overtly support either of the candidates vying to replace him in the 68th Assembly District. Smart move. Tran has little to gain by throwing in his lot with either Janet Nguyen, the Garden Grove Council Member, or Jim Righeimer, the wealthy GOP donor and activist.

Typically, in these kinds of races, the smart move is to run your own race and not waste time on other races. According to the Flash Report, that is exactly what Tran is going to do. This way he can expect help from the winner of the primary, in the general. However, there has to be more to this story.

Nguyen is serving currently on the same body where Tran cut his political teeth. She also works for the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, and she used to be a district director for Ken Maddox, the former assemblyman who was replaced by Tran when he termed out. All the buzz right now is that she is losing endorsements to Righeimer, now that he has entered the race. So what? Endorsements don’t win races. Money ultimately does, most of the time.

Nguyen has already proven that she can raise money. You have to believe that she has a database that includes everyone Maddox knew, and them some. She is also knows the 68th far better than Righeimer, who used to live in the 67th until redistricting thrust him into the 68th. My guess is that Nguyen will have lots of fans in the district, but Righeimer will have the advantage of being able to bring in help from outside the district.

There is a lot of talk at OC Blog that Righeimer may have some kind of problems that could hamper his campaign. Most of the implications seem to be financial in nature, hinting at past problems. Others have written that Righeimer moved past those problems years ago. In this post-Abramoff era you have to believe that Righeimer will fall under additional scrutiny as time goes on. If nothing else, some votes may move to Nguyen over time if these allegations continue, and particularly if they prove true.

As for Tran, it is probably not a stretch to say that he and Nguyen share many supporters. How could they not? It doesn’t matter if Tran says he is not overtly supporting her, if many of his supporters do. When they walk precincts for Tran, will they also be walking Nguyen’s material, with or without Tran’s blessing? Never mind the GOP suits who endorse Righeimer, will the businesspeople in the Vietnamese community follow suit? I doubt they even know who Righeimer is.

I am going to guess that there is a lot of talk behind closed doors about getting Nguyen out of the race. I don’t see that happening. She won’t have an easy time of it, but I suspect she will not fold under this pressure. She has too much experience in politics to do so, despite her young age. Having Tran on board would have been great, but I don’t think his current stance will do much to hamper the Nguyen campaign, although it does help Righeimer’s position somewhat.

This race is ultimately quite different from the heated one that Tran is currently embroiled in, versus the liberal Lynn Daucher, who enjoys the mysterious support of GOP State Senate leader Dick Ackerman. Tran needs to beat Daucher or we lose the 34th, but whether Nguyen or Righeimer prevail in the 68th is immaterial. Either way conservatives win, and I suspect that Nguyen will still have a bright future ahead of her, even if she doesn’t win this time around.

You can read the Flash Report article about all this at The latest OC Blog post regarding Nguyen and Tran is at

About Art Pedroza