Did the OC GOP really blow it in Irvine, or is Probolsky right?

A huge argument has developed in Irvine, where there is much consternation and debate as to why the Republicans were not able to defeat Larry Agran.

Allan Bartlett, an OC GOP Central Committee member, thinks the OC GOP did blow it.

“The party did blow it big time. That will be getting addressed for next time around. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but Scott Baugh and to a lesser extent John Campbell are the main ones responsible for this debacle and we will not forget that,” Bartlett wrote on Facebook.

While one Republican won, Jeff Lalloway, another GOP candidate, Lynn Schott, lost, by only 3.3% of the vote.

The Voice of OC shed some light on this in a new post.  Here are a few excerpts:

Former mayor Bill Vardoulis said Lalloway did try to work it out with Schott. Vardoulis said he witnessed a dramatic restaurant meeting involving Schott, Lalloway and Frances Akhavi, a Schott ally disliked by some in the party.

Akhavi, Vardoulis said, was shouting at Lalloway and accusing an official with the Irvine Republican Council, an extension of the county GOP, of embezzlement.

Interesting.  Outgoing Irvine Councilwoman Christina Shea dumped Lalloway from a City Commission, the week before the election, because he sent out a mailer stating that he was the only GOP-endorsed candidate.  Well, that was true for a long time.  But was this enough of a sin to cast him out?  In retrospect, no.  And now Shea is finished in local Republican politics.

The fact is, Lalloway smartly got in with his party elite, over the past few years.  I noticed that he cut checks to both Steven Choi and his primary opponent, Jerry Amante, when they faced off in the Primary Election for an Assembly seat.  Lalloway is a friend of Choi’s, but he knew enough to reach out to Amante, who is influential in his own right.

It was no surprise that Lalloway raised more money than any other candidate in Irvine this year.  He paid his dues and it paid off.  And he worked closely with Congressman John Campbell – which paid off as well since Campbell soundly defeated his Democratic opponent, Irvine Councilwoman Beth Krom.  No doubt Campbell helped Lalloway considerably in the process.

Schott, on the other hand, allied with a bunch of tea party loons and she barely raised any money.  Lesson learned.

The Voice of OC also interviewed OC GOP insider Adam Probolsky about the election results.  His comments are quite enlightening:

Probolsky said Farivar’s poor showing was because of “old and tired” campaign tactics, like glossy slate mailers, and a failure to connect on a personal level with the voters. That, combined with her unfamiliar name, worked against her, Probolsky said.

“Most people don’t know what a Shiva Farivar or a Yunus Aksoy is,” Probolsky said. With Schott, he added, “I [the Irvine voter] know what I’m getting. I know she’s probably a white lady — I gravitate towards what I know.”

The real reason Schott and Lalloway couldn’t take out Agran, Probolsky said, is because “life is good in Irvine” and most people don’t pay attention to the constant media drumming about corruption at the Great Park or wasteful spending.

“Very few Irvine residents give a crap about the Great Park,” Probolsky said. “The city’s finances are largely unimportant to them.” He added, “What could Lynn Schott and her band of misfits have done to hurt Larry Agran? I have no idea.”

I can’t disagree with Probolosky’s assertions, with regard to the quality of life in Irvine.  He is right, most folks are happy there and so they keep on voting for the incumbents.

I do disagree with Probolsky with regard to non-white candidates.  Obviously he forgot the success of Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang, who won resoundingly again this year, against Republican candidate Chris Gonzalez.  Minority candidates can indeed prevail in Irvine, but Probolsky is right to assert that Farivar, and Aksoy, simply were not well known.

Planning Commissioners generally have a leg up in City Council races, but Farivar’s claim to fame was being allied with Agran, and Krom.  That just wasn’t enough.  In contrast, Lalloway has been very active in city politics and in supporting Irvine schools.  Voters knew him and gave him their vote.

So why did Schott do better than Farivar?  Well, I think there were just too many minority candidates on the ballot.  Aksoy and Bijan Mazarji cut into the voter bloc, and Farivar paid the price.

I think Lalloway will do a fine job on the Irvine City Council.  He is not a nutter, but he does have firm fiscally conservative views.  He doesn’t reflexively attack Agran.  In fact I think they will work well together, which will surprise some.  Lalloway is a nice guy and his personality will allow him to be effective.

It is easy to blame the OC GOP, but the truth is, Schott did not reach out to her party.  She slammed it and allied with an angry rabble.  It didn’t serve her well and she paid the price.  That’s politics.

About Art Pedroza