Martin doesn’t have an O.C. rep – but he is a legitimate candidate

Claudio Gallegos, my co-blogger, and I were supposed to meet with Commander Ralph Martin of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department on Friday – but Claudio got hung up so I joined Martin and his amicable campaign manager, Dennis Werner, for a cup of coffee. I did not know much about Martin going into our meeting, but he turned out to be quite interesting.

Martin has almost as many years of experience as I have had on this earth. He manages a vast area that stretches from Lawndale, through the mean streets of Compton, and all the way to Catalina Island. I forget how many deputies work for him, but suffice to say that he manages a huge budget and thousands of employees. Clearly, he is a qualified candidate for the Sheriff’s office.

The problem Martin faces is that while he has lived in the O.C. for about ten years, in Coto de Caza, he works in L.A. His endorsements reflect that. He counts Republican L.A. Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Steven Cooley amongst his supporters. In fact his political consultant worked for Cooley, helping him get elected as District Attorney in Los Angeles County.

Martin has been a lifelong Republican, which makes sense given his occupation, but his family is predominantly Democrat. His mom came from Minnesota and his dad is from Boston, which are of course two areas that have been dominated by Democrats for years.

Martin acknoweledged that he will have to cultivate support from county Democrats in order to prevail in the primary. His campaign manager previously worked for Loretta Sanchez, and Maritn also has many personal friends who are Democrats. He does worry that area Republicans might not like that he is going after Democrat voters, but I pointed out the fact that Hunt has been doing that, and Carona once hosted a fundraiser for former California Governor Gray Davis.

Martin was very direct about his intention of running a clean campaign. He doesn’t want to get mixed up in the ongoing skirmish between incumbent Sheriff Mike Carona and Lt. Bill Hunt, the Police Chief of San Clemente. The acrimony between the Carona and Hunt camps runs deep, and no one seems to speak ill of Martin.

However, insiders know that Carona is fretting about Martin. The latter has had quite a bit of success raising money, which is a miracle given that so much of the O.C. GOP establishment has been bought off or otherwise snookered by Carona. Martin also has more direct experience than Carona.

Martin had nothing bad to say about Hunt. They met about two years ago, and Martin’s only sentiment about Hunt is that were he in Martin’s organization he would be about two or three layers down from Martin. That might be the case, but Hunt appears to be in position to seriously contend for the O.C. A.D.S. endorsement. I asked Martin if he felt he had a shot too.

Predictably, he did feel that he was in the running for the valuable endorsement of the O.C. deputy sheriffs. He intimated that he almost got the O.C.E.A. endorsement, but of coure Carona got it instead.

As our conversation drew to a close, Martin said something very provocative. He feels that many of Carona’s supporters are nervous, given the fact that Carona is facing so many charges and allegations. And according to Martin, there are even more to come. Martin is not going to bring any of that up in his campaign, preferring insted to run on his own credentials. “I can run this department,” said Martin about the O.C. Sheriff’s office. I think he can – but he has a long road ahead.

I should mention that I have not yet had the opportunity to meet with Lt. Hunt. I hope to do so soon. He, like Martin, appears eminently qualified, but both face long odds against Carona. Hunt however has a head-start, and he has ground troops and local endorsements in place. I hope that one of them can indeed prevail against Carona, and God willing they won’t just knock each other out.

You can find out more about Martin at

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.