Late August chismes: the new Districts and next year’s Elections!




The pajarito, or "little bird" - source of all rumors, or "chismes."

Hark!  how the sultry pre-September days are enlivened by exaltation of birdsong.  All the larger species are chirping the jolly tune about the Victim Party (the California GOP) and its disgruntlement with our new, strenuously, impartially drawn districts.  These long-suffering souls had always felt cheated by the Bipartisan Incumbent Protection lines of 2001;  now the new, laboriously nonpartisan lines seem even more unfair to the pobrecitos;  next they’d like to send the whole question to the state Supreme Court – oh – I see why!  All the judges there are Republican-appointed.  But it STILL won’t turn out the way they’d like, because the fact is the state GOP is moribund.

Party bouncer / court jester Jon Fleischman, who two years ago wrote that approving this redistricting was “one of the most important votes that any conservative in this state can cast,” has now, in contrition and/or amnesia, penned a fervent cri-de-couer against it, which Cal Buzz has roundly and most enjoyably demolished.   Long song short:  Sorry, bub, your Party is just dying.  You are Whigs.


But we connoisseurs, we OC bloggers and cognoscenti, keep our ears peeled for the songs of the smaller birds – the pajaritos – to divine the local, human impact of these epic geographic struggles.  And some of what we hear nests below:


Tyler Diep, Keith Carlson, Joe Dovinh

The open 72nd Assembly District, consisting of the Little Saigon towns, the northern half of Huntington Beach, and Los Alamitos, is turning into a fratricidal bloodbath, oh my!  On the Republican side, highly ambitious Westminster councilman and loyal-unto-death Trannie Tyler Diep feels this seat is his due.  A prodigious fundraiser and top advisor the Equalizer Michelle Steel, he has her endorsement, and includes Van Tran and fellow equalizer Ken Lopez-Maddox-Lopez as campaign co-chairs.

But then there’s Newport Beach lawyer and consummate GOP insider Keith Carlson, who had been achieving stellar fundraising himself before knowing what the new district lines would be, just thinking simply that he’d take over “Jim Silva’s old seat,” not knowing it would be cut in half.

What’d Jesus say that one time, “You can’t serve two masters?”  It hadn’t generally been a problem for Keith serving both Scott Baugh and Mike Schroeder, until now.  But pajaritos sing that Schroeder can’t stand Allan Mansoor (who knew?) and was intending to deploy his Carlson against Allan in the 74th;  while Baugh preferred to spare Mansoor and install his Carlson in the open 72nd.  Something else I didn’t know – Mansoor’s stock has gone up in the OC GOP, as many who considered him an uncharismatic, one-note Mexican basher now admire him for his more recent stand against Redevelopment Agencies.  So Keith has reportedly decided to please Scott rather than Mike, and move to northern HB to discomfit Tyler;  last we heard, Baugh lieutenant, Party bouncer and court jester Jon Fleischman was bending Michelle Steel’s ear trying to get her to rescind her endorsement of Diep.

This Carlson move is just BOUND to add to the Viet community’s anger and resentment especially with the OC GOP – they already feel cheated by all three districts they’ve been handed, and this move against Diep should just be salt on the wounds, wouldn’t you think?  Remember Andrew Do’s bitter parting shots at the lack of respect Viets get from “OC GOP Kingmakers.”  Maybe Viets should vote Democrat?

Well… that’s another story.  We Democrats had been thinking that we just maybe COULD win this seat, with the right Vietnamese-American Democrat, and of course by that we meant Phu Nguyen.  But family man and businessman Phu has decided he’s not eager to spend years in Sacramento away from his young children any time soon, or lose the kind of money neglecting his business that he did in 2010.  This leaves Democrats with Dina Nguyen’s husband Joe Dovinh, who ran unsuccessfully against Phu in the primary last year, and spent the remaining months savaging him on Viet radio.  I immortalized Mr. Dovinh in this epic interview last year.  That’s all I’m going to say about Dovinh for now.


Allan Mansoor, Leslie Daigle

So then, what bold Republican WILL run in the new coastal 74th Assembly District against Allan Mansoor, Allan Mansoor with his new anti-redevelopment cachet, Allan Mansoor who has come to realize there is more to politics than combating the La Cucaracha food trucks?

Looks like that will be Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle.  Leslie Daigle?  From the little I’ve heard of her I had the impression she was just another flighty nut.  In what way would she differ from Allan?  Well, I asked a Republican® and was told that the answer is “redevelopment”  –  Leslie is evidently an “empty suit”  (women can be that?) put up for this run by pro-RDA forces.  And she’s not given much of a chance against incumbent Allan by the smart money.

(My personal effort to create a mini-Recruit Rush Hill movement fizzled, with the urbane councilman responding, “This [Newport] is where I want to serve and believe I can add value at our local level.  I did my tour in Sacramento from 71 to 74 with the Reagan administration. Now if you have a question about our Revitalization program, or keeping the new city hall/park/library/parking structure on schedule and on budget here in Newport, that’s more my cup of tea!”)

Pity the good people of Costa Mesa – they’ve got that City Council.  It looks like they’re stuck with Allan Mansoor in the Assembly.  And from there it gets even worse – State Senator Mimi Walters, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.   Maybe I won’t move there after all.


Lynn Daucher, Bob Huff

And it looks like we’ve got another fratri-sister-cidal open primary situation brewing in the North OC Senate District 29.  Senator Bob Huff, to whom the most-frequently-applied adjective, from all sides, is “arrogant,” has been ruling this majority-red fiefdom for four years.  He’s pissed off the rightwing/teahadist base of the Party both by being among the most strident voices in favor of wasteful RDA’s, and by going through the motions, with four other GOP senators, of negotiating with Governor Brown over budgetary matters.  (Little do they know that was just a big waste of time that we Dems rather he hadn’t bothered with.)  And to us on the left he is an arrogant rightwinger specializing in defunding public education (by diverting funds to “charter schools”) and in his spare time meticulously packing the local City Councils with his aides and yes-men.

Now comes Republican former Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher, hoping to knock Huff off his throne.  Remember her, the skinny lady who nearly beat Lou Correa for state Senate back in 2006?  Given her record of moderation and Lou’s record since then of putting business profits above all else, I have often asked myself why we worked so hard – there really wasn’t THAT much difference between them.  But I think if I were up that far north in the county – nosebleed north – I WOULD perceive a difference between Daucher and Huff, and choose the former (of course, after the sacrificial-lamb Democrat is knocked out in the primary, that is.)


Tom Daly, Julio Pérez, Michele Martinez

Like I’ve said, in the safe Democratic 69th Assembly District (Santa Ana / central Anaheim) we Democrats should be trying to get the most PROGRESSIVE Democrat we can – much more progressive than quasi-Dems Solorio and Correa – meaning one who looks out for the interests of regular people over corporations, and liberty over our incarceration state.

So we’ve got, so far, Anaheim Labor dude Julio Pérez versus SA Councilchick Michele Martinez, neither of whom I’ve been able to interview yet.  And it’s proven frustratingly impossible to find anyone who’s met Michele who will vouch for her intelligence or literacy.

And then there’s Pedroza, who for some reason becomes practically apoplectic when Julio’s name comes up.  All I can get from him though is that Julio is similar to Dick Cheney insofar as his previous job as political director for the Orange County Labor Federation entailed finding good political candidates to support and then he went and chose himself.  (Darth Cheney chose himself to be W’s VP.)  Also, according to Art and Sean, Julio is the dread “TOAST” because there are more Santa Ana residents in the district than Anaheim ones and they love them some Michele.  Others respond without missing a beat, that Anaheimers vote in greater numbers than SanTanans and not all the latter love them some Michele.  (As I write, Julio has just officially announced his candidacy, naming his top priorities as “Jobs and education” – we have had a pre-announcement from Michele but still no announcement.)

But one thing I think most of us can agree on is that we hope the rumors that career politician Tom Daly is running do not bear fruit, or else that he loses.  He would be the de facto Republican in the race, certainly put up to it by business interests that fear Labor politician Pérez.  Previously Anaheim mayor, currently the County Clerk-Recorder, Tom has a longstanding history of favoring business interests over labor, and sidelining local populist Latino activists.  “De facto Republican?”  Some of his biggest supporters in recent years have been Republicans – from GOP consultant John Lewis to Red County voices like Cynthia Ward.  And on the right, our Fullerton fringers have Tom dead to rights on sundry flagrant wastefulness.  So you see? – these middle-of-the-roaders who are neither good progressives nor good conservatives please nobody but the comfortable and rich.

So let’s go ahead and have one of the two Latinos in this Latino district.

*** smaller tidbits ***

In Fullerton-centered Assembly District 65, we’re still wondering who will run against the guy Gus calls “quirky Lincoln impersonator” Chris Norby?  Beloved Councillady Sharon Quirk-Silva is wisely biding her time another term or two.   The California Democratic Party is still counting this as one of their best shots due to the nearly-tied registration numbers, but who will be the magic-bullet candidate?  Will my one-man effort to recruit La Palma Mayor Ralph Rodriguez be any more successful than my failed Rush Hill movement?

I have no knowledge of what plucky Democrat might run in the much-anticipated Gary Miller / Ed Royce cage-match up in the 39th Congressional District.  I did note though, while sifting through DPOC financial outlays, a shocking five-figure expenditure marked simply, “POPCORN.”

The “godfather of the Orange County Tea Party” whom we previously referred to as the “very ambitious Supervisor Shawn Nelson” has apparently turned a lot less ambitious, and is running for neither the Congressional nor Senate seat that were rumored.  That’s the thing about pajaritos – sometimes they’re wrong, and sometimes things just change!

What else are you hearing, aviary?

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.