Does a red endorsement mean much in blue Santa Ana?

The red and blue blogs in town had a field day today breaking the news we posted first this weekend about Supervisor Janet Nguyen.  I wrote a post on Sunday about the Fiestas Patrias parade in Santa Ana, which featured a plethora of local politicians pretending they care about Latino immigrants.  I found out that day that Nguyen decided to endorse Santa Ana Councilman Carlos Bustamante for Ward 3 on the Santa Ana City Council, and I reported that in my story about the parade.

For the uninformed, I am running against Bustamante.  And, as the red and blue blogs pointed out, I have been perhaps the only defender of Nguyen on the local blogs.  So of course they all think it is the end of the world that Nguyen has endorsed my opponent, but is it?

The fact is, Nguyen was pressured by the Republican Party of Orange County to back Bustamante, who is her fellow Republican.  And she buckled to that pressure – even though she just got reelected to a four year term on the Board of Supervisors.  She could have blow off Bustamante and what would it have mattered?  Four years hence it would have been an afterthought.

But does her endorsement really matter all that much in a town dominated by Democrats and independents?  Bustamante is the last Republican on the City Council – and even his own party members are increasingly avoiding him.  Former GOP State Senator and consultant John Lewis is no longer advising him.  And the O.C. Lincoln Club took a pass on endorsing him this year.  Bustamante even got kicked out of Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido’s endorsement signature party a few weeks ago, according to a slew of pajaritos.

The fact is, Nguyen’s endorsement doesn’t do much for Bustamante.  Now an endorsement by a major Democratic figure, like State Senator Lou Correa, would be something to crow about.  But why would any real Democrats do anything for Bustamante?

Nguyen has a history of strange endorsements.  She earned the unending wrath of fellow Supervisor John Moorlach when she endorsed Stanton’s Dave Shawver against him.  She said at the time that she was returning the favor as Shawver had backed her for the Garden Grove City Council.  So?  He is ridiculous.  She had no business endorsing him.  It was a huge mistake.  And she paid the price for it.  Moorlach still treats her with open disdain.  By no means is he perfect, but Shawver is a complete joke.

Nguyen also stepped in it when she recently announced a fundraiser that starred notorious trash queen Judy Ware.  I winced when I saw that flier.  She told me that she had no choice but to be fair to Ware. Not true.  She had a choice – and she made the wrong choice.

At the end of the day, Nguyen is going to do whatever she wants.  And when it comes to her endorsements, the results are a mixed bag.  I am by no means sore that she did not endorse me.  I asked her to stay out of this race.  She chose otherwise.  Now she is going to take the hit – she will be maligned for siding with the guy who made the infamous “waterbra” remarks.  And if I beat him she is going to look even worse.

And, as others have pointed out, it now looks like Nguyen puts politics ahead of her friends.  That may not be true, but that is what her endorsement of Bustamante looks like.  But that’s politics for you.  Nguyen is a seasoned politician.  She’ll probably weather this storm.  And Bustamante isn’t going to make much headway despite this endorsement.  Note that the DPOC “leadership” office opening in Santa Ana tomorrow includes Santa Ana Councilman Vince Sarmiento and Assemblyman Jose Solorio.  No Bustamante.

When Bustamante ran for Supervisor and was trounced by Nguyen, his Democratic opponent, Tom Umberg, spent a fortune telling the voters that Bustamante is a Republican.  That race wasn’t that long ago.  Bustamante now has to spend a fortune to undo that damage.

On the other hand, the voters I am talking to like that I am an independent.  My campaign co-chairs are Republicans and most of my supporters are Democrats – and Libertarians.  I have quite a diverse coalition behind me.  Bustamante?  He has Nguyen’s tepid endorsement.  Good luck with that Carlos!


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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.