Will women voters decide the outcome of the 1st Supervisorial special election?

O.C. bloggers have parsed the upcoming special election to select a representative in the First Supervisorial District a thousand ways, but while we cannot find agreement as to whether or not Vietnamese, Latino or other voters will prevail, one thing we can agree on is that women will likely make up more than half the voters. These kind of low-turnout elections favor older voters, and women live longer than men. So why aren’t either of the major parties getting behind one of the female candidates?

The Democrats seem to be waiting for Tom Umberg to make up his mind. In the meantime it appears that Garden Grove Councilman Mark Rosen is their guy – but Garden Grove voters make up a much smaller bloc of voters in this district compared to Santa Ana voters. Kermit Marsh attested in a Red County/OC Blog post that 40% of the votes cast in the March, 2004 primary were from Santa Ana. That does not bode well for Rosen – even if Umberg does not run.

Why aren’t the Democrats getting behind Santa Ana Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez? She has run for the 69th Assembly District twice, and while her results dropped this year, there were three candidates in the primary. She has been in office for six years, and she has a great ballot designation as she works for OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. Moreover, Lou Correa won 44% in a crowded primary in 2004, for the 1st District, and close to 55% in the general, against Garden Grove Councilman Bruce Broadwater.

The problem for Alvarez is that there are several other Santa Ana residents in the race, including her fellow councilman, Carlos Bustamante, and anti-immigration activist Lupe Moreno. Former Santa Ana Councilman Brett Franklin is also in the mix. But Alvarez is the only Democrat in that bunch.

As for the Republicans, they have a strong candidate in Garden Grove Councilwoman Janet Nguyen, however she has apparently angered a lot of her fellow Republicans over the years. GOP powerbrokers Jim Righeimer and Michael Schroeder are backing Garden Grove School Board Member Trung Nguyen – an acolyte of Assemblyman Van Tran.

But Trung could not win a Central Committee election this year, in Tran’s 68th Assembly District, even though he was the only Vietnamese candidate on the ballot. And he lost a water board election in the general election, in a district that overlaps the 1st district, to Kathryn Barr, a Democrat candidate. He just doesn’t appear to be viable.

So we have two strong female candidates for the 1st District – and a third candidate in dark horse Lupe Moreno, and neither party is coalescing support behind them. The message to women voters in the 1st District is clear – both parties want your votes but neither one wants you to vote for a female candidate.

Will women automatically get behind one of their own? That’s hard to say. But there is only one woman on the Board of Supervisors – newly elected Pat Bates. It would be a good idea, in my opinion, to elect another one. If however that is to happen, either Alvarez or Janet Nguyen will have to vault over quite a few of their male colleagues. While I have been a vocal supporter of Janet Nguyen, you have to believe that Alvarez has the best odds in this field – if she can raise enough money in time, and if she can dispel voter fatigue and somehow excite the few voters that will turn out in this election. That’s a tall order.

I pose this question to our female readers – are you upset that neither party is getting behind a female candidate for the 1st District? Who do you like in this race? Will both parties suffer repercussions for not backing their women candidates? I look forward to your responses.

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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.