Who’s running for the Democrats? Who’s running where they aren’t?

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Black hole simulation

Artist's conception of Orange County's Assembly District 73, viewed from a Democratic perspective facing the Large Magellenic Cloud.

I’m not, at this moment, a particular happy camper as regards the Democratic slate in OC this year.  The quality is fine; the quantity, sparse.  Maybe it will get better.  People who don’t care about whether it does haven’t really figured out all of the implications of the Top Two primary.

I thought about this when I received word that the Orange County Young Democrats did endorse last evening in OC races where there are declared Democratic candidates.  Their endorsements:

  • Loretta Sanchez – 46th Congressional District
  • Sukhee Kang – 45th Congressional District
  • Alan Lowenthal – 47th Congressional District
  • Julio Perez – 69th Assembly District
  • Joe Dovinh – 72nd Assembly District
  • My first reaction to that list was: nice endorsements!  My second reaction to that was: five endorsements?  It’s not OCYD’s fault, though.  They can only endorse who’s running.

    Counting only U.S. House and state legislative seats, Orange County has basically 17 of them.  I happen to have a list of them (of which the locations noted are just illustrative), with the incumbents in brackets:

    CD39 (North OC, E. SGV & Chino Hills) [Ed Royce]

    CD45 (E. Orange, Tustin, Irvine, MV) [John Campbell]

    CD46 (Santa Ana, C. Anaheim, E. GG) [Loretta Sanchez]

    CD47 (Long Beach, Cypress, W. G Grove) [Not really anyone]

    CD48 (Seal/Hunt’ton/Newport/Laguna) [Dana Rohrabacher]

    CD49 (SE OC , NW San Diego Co.) [Darrell Issa]

    SD29 (N/NW OC, E. San Gabriel Valley, Chino Hills) [Bob Huff of Diamond Bar]

    SD34 (E. L.B., Los Al, HB, GG, Sta Ana) — NO 2012 RACE [Lou Correa]

    SD36 (SE OC, NW San Diego Coast) — NO 2012 RACE [Mimi Walters, but Mark Wyland may step in if lines are upheld]

    SD37 (Newp’t, Laguna, Tustin, Orange) [Not really anyone, but Mimi Walters expected to run here]

    AD55 (NORTH: N. O.C.-Chino Hills-S. SG Vly) [Curt Hagman of Chino Hills]

    AD65 (NORTHWEST: W. Anaheim-Fullerton-BP) [Chris Norby]

    AD68 (EAST: Interior Hills and Canyons) [Don Wagner]

    AD69 (CENTRAL: Santa Ana-Cent. Anaheim) [Jose Solorio – termed out]

    AD72 (WEST: Los Al, Westminster, W. Gar Grove) [Jim Silva — termed out]

    AD73 (SOUTH: E of Irvine/Laguna Bch/Lag Woods) [Diane Harkey]

    AD74 (SOUTHWEST: SE HB-CM-NB-Irv.-Laguna) [Alan Mansoor]

    A side note: Technically, it’s really 19 districts, but two have only a small part of OC.  The Redistricting Commission combined Buena Park with an LA County Senate seat and La Palma with an LA County Congressional seat.  Asian interests argued for an integration of northwest OC with Asian-populated areas like Cerritos, Artesia, and Norwalk; I don’t know if this is really what they had in mind.  So, while OC has little to do with choosing or nominating candidates there, we need to add:

    CD38 (La Palma + S.E. LA County) [Linda Sanchez]

    SD32 (Downey, Whittier, Buena Park) — NO 2012 RACE

    (By the way, the dynamic of these two seats is interesting.  Ron Calderon is the incumbent in SD-32, where he is termed out in 2014, so he is taking a free swing at Linda Sanchez in CA-38, where he will likely get what Republican votes are gettable.  That’s a race that bears watching.  Of course, Assembly members who would like to move into the Senate seat would be happy to see it vacated early.)

    Putting these two districts aside, we have 15 Congressional or State Legislative elections this year in districts with more than one city in OC.  And, as noted, we have only five endorsements — one of them in AD 69, a district that has four Democrats (including OJ’s own Francisco Barrigan) running.  That’s not a very high proportion.

    You can probably make a case for not running a Democrat in AD-74, where Costa Mesan Mansoor will face challenges from Newport Beach Councilmember Leslie Daigle, well-heeled Keith Carlson of Huntington Beach, and possibly Huntington Beach Councilmember Joe Carchio, who would be much better off re-opening his restaurant, capiche?  With the amount of cash that will be flying around in this race, a Dem might make the runoff, but would probably be crushed; there’s an argument to be made for making these people spend a bunch of money and suck up a lot of activists’ time in June and then do it all over again in November.  (It’s the mirror image, in this respect, of AD-69, which has a similar dynamic involving Democrats but less money.)  Even then, one hopes that a Peace and Freedom or Green candidate will be on the primary ballot just so decent people have someone to vote for.  (It’s theoretically possible to try to negotiate with one of the Republicans to be more moderate, but this is generally believed to be inviting them to receive a kiss of death.)  So let’s call it 14 races, of which we have Dems scheduled to run in … 5.  I don’t like it.  We don’t want OC to once again be the place where good propositions go to die.

    Those nine remaining: Congressional races against Royce, Rohrabacher and Issa; State Senate races against Huff and Walters; and Assembly races against Hagman, Norby, Wagner, and Harkey.  How many are really open?

    CA-39: My understanding is that Jay Chen, a school board member from Hacienda Heights, has taken out papers to run against Royce.  They will make the top two, though of course Royce would be favored.

    CA-48: Someone should run against Rohrabacher.  (Yes, he has good positions on cannabis.  No, that is not the only issue in the world.)  If I could wave a wand, either Melissa Fox would have the time and money to do it — she is an up-and-comer and name recognition is good — or either Howard Berman or Brad Sherman, whoever looks likely to lose — would pull a Gary Miller and move out from the San Fernando Valley to go out with a bang in Newport Beach.

    CA-49: I have heard some discussion that someone will challenge Issa, possibly from Oceanside, but this could easily fall through the cracks.

    SD-29: Expect an underfunded candidate to file against Huff.

    SD-37: I’m not hearing much of anything here.  Surely between Villa Park and Laguna Beach, between the Huntington Beach pier and Lake Forest, someone would like to see their name on the ballot against Screamin’ Mimi.  Maybe someone who wants to make a particular proposition that main part of their platform?

    AD-55: Hagman is pretty much unknown to OC voters, but no potential opponent is making noise.  This is mostly an LA/SB county race, but Democratic possibilities are scarce in Diamond Bar, Rowland Heights, and Chino Hills (though there are more than a few in tiny Walnut.)  La Habra and Placentia have some Dems, though, right?

    AD-65: This is a close district in terms of registration, but not in terms of momentum.  Sharon Quirk-Silva has decided to run for re-election to the Fullerton City Council, where she will probably have a better time of it than facing off against Norby.  La Palma Mayor Ralph Rodriguez has been considered a possibility here.  After that, the apparent pickings get slim.  There is a large Latino and Asian area south of I-5 (down into Cerritos, Stanton, Buena Park and west Anaheim) to be organized if the right candidate did step forward.

    AD-68: It would be very hard to beat Wagner, inert though he may be, in this rock-ribbed portion of the county.  Still, it would not be that hard to beat on Wagner, for someone so disposed.

    AD-73: Yeah, this is not going to be an easy district for any Democrat — all right, let’s not beat around the bush, it’s the most Republican Assembly District in the state — but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth someone taking a flier at it.  Once again, this is a great opportunity to promote one’s stands on initiatives.  Would you rather leave that to the Libertarians?  You would?  OK, then.

    And that fine segue leads me to the other point of this post.  Unless no one — literally no one, whether named on the ballot or a write-in — runs in these lopsided races, there is going to be a two-person runoff in November, which will be a great platform for a candidate who wants to make something out of it.  And this brings us to one seldom-discussed solemn responsibility of a major party: keeping the real wackos away from the spotlight.

    If you tell me that there’s a Libertarian running for office in AD-73, or a Green or Peace and Freedom candidate running in SD-37, or a Neo-Maoist in AD-55, or a Decline-to-State hybrid of Ross Perot, John Anderson, Sarah Palin and Ralph Nader who wants to run against Rohrabacher in CA-48 — actually, such a person might possibly win there — then I say: fine.  They have ideas they want to promote, they may be outside of the political mainstream, but let them present their ideas.  That doesn’t hurt anyone — except when it does.

    The ideas that hurt people are those which seek to divide society largely through violent means.  I’m talking about the Klan, neo-Nazis, the most virulent Minutemen.  I’m taking about people who are peddling racial and ethnic hatred.  If we leave a vacuum, it will most likely be filled — and the lower the vote total required to fill it, the more disturbing what enters that vacuum would be.

    So — even if it is with a second Republican — I hope that both slots in these seats will be filled by candidates in, I won’t call it the mainstream but who at least aren’t out in the gutter.  I’d like to see the broad “anti-hatred” ticket take as many slots as possible in this year’s general election.  I don’t want Nazis to crow about how they were able to get 35% of the vote, even if that merely represented 35% unpopularity of their mainstream opponent.  Perennial candidate Christine Avalos, who is pretty far left, is rumored to be running against Loretta Sanchez this year.  Many of my fellow Democrats were appalled.  Personally, I’m happy for it.  Someone will be running against Loretta in November — and that person won’t win.  I’d rather that it be someone who can make for an interesting debate, like Avalos, than someone who is out to stir up demographic strife.  I won’t name names, but I’ll bet that many of you can.


    About Greg Diamond

    Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)