Diaz – the only Latino Democrat vying for the 1st District

The endorsements are flying on the GOP side of the race for the 1st Supervisorial District.

The latest news has former Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher endorsing Garden Grove School Board member Trung Nguyen; while Nguyen’s erstwhile ally, Westminster Councilman Andy Quach, has endorsed his peer, Westminster Councilman Kermit Marsh – as has the California Republican Assembly, the most successful conservative grassroots Republican volunteer organization. And Garden Grove Councilwoman Janet Nguyen picked up the endorsement of Garden Grove Mayor Bill Dalton. I am told that she also just picked up the endorsement of the ABC – the Associated Builders & Contractors.

However – there are six Republican candidates and only four Democrat candidates – and only one Latino Democrat, in the form of Garden Grove’s Benny Diaz. The 1st District swings Democrat – and it has a lot of Latino voters, giving Diaz a huge edge.

Most Democrats seem to be fixated on former Assemblyman Tom Umberg – and he is no doubt the leader of this pack – but assuming he gets white votes from throughout the district, the question is, can he win with so many other candidates in the race vying for the white vote?

In Westminster, Marsh is doing a lot better than anyone thought – he will dominate votes in that city. In Garden Grove the votes will be split amongst Janet and Trung Nguyen, as well as Councilman Mark Rosen. In Santa Ana former Councilman Brett Franklin will dominate votes in the northern and southern parts of the city.

So what about the Latino votes? Sixty percent of the district’s voters hail from Santa Ana – and that city is 90% Latino. Will these voters, who are mostly Democrats, vote for Republican Councilman Carlos Bustamante? I think not – even if he can wrest a few votes away from Franklin, he faces the specter of conservative anti-immigration activist Lupe Moreno. It does not look good for Bustamante.

Which leaves us with Diaz. This is his race to lose. Can he raise the money and pull together enough volunteers to win this? He thinks so. I think he could be right.

Diaz is an unknown quantity in the OC Blogosphere – but Latinos know him. He arrived in Orange County in 1980 – after leaving his country of birth – Peru. His first job was at a McDonald’s restaurant. He worked nights cleaning offices and medical facilities – which is exactly what I did while helping my father as a youngster.

Diaz also worked at Disneyland at night – and he went to school, first to learn English. Later he graduated from Fullerton Junior College. While at that campus he was elected to the student government – whetting his growing appetite for politics. In 1983 he completed a degree in political science. In 1986 he graduated from UCI with a BA in political science and economics.

Diaz later earned a real estate license. He also got a job with the Marriott Corporation – and he found his calling in Human Resources.

In 1987 Diaz became a U.S. citizen. A few years later, in 1992, he got a job with the California Employment Development Department. Later he moved over to the California Department of Industrial Relations and became a research analyst. He is still there, working as a compliance officer in the worker’s compensation industry.

Diaz remains very involved in the community. He is a mentor to young people and an active member of the University of California Alumni Association. He is also one of the founders of the UCI Chicano Alumni. Diaz is also a longtime member of LULAC – the League of United Latin American Citizens.

We saw a glimpse of what Diaz is all about today when he read in this blog about the Santa Ana Unified School District’s apparent reluctance to post the names of the candidates to replace Sal Tinajero. So he picked up the phone, called the District and sure enough they posted the names of the candidates on their website.

It is telling that Diaz took the time to make that call – none of the other Supervisorial candidates even noticed what was going on. Does anyone really think that will change if one of them becomes our next Supervisor in the 1st District?

Is Diaz a longshot? Sure – but so what? So was Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez. She has endorsed Rosen. I hope she will reconsider.

OC Democrats are uniting behind Umberg – but the Latinos in their midst need to take a long look at Diaz. He has always been there for them. Now he needs them to return the favor. If they do, he just might pull this off.

Diaz’ campaign signs will proudly proclaim that he is a Democrat. Will that be enough to pull off the victory? Who knows? It won’t hurt though. I won’t bet against him.

About Admin

"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.