Thoughts on the Primary, Part 1: Recall Robert Hammond in November!

Some weird stuff happened last night as the votes in the primary were counted.  Weird — and often fascinating.  In this Part 1, let’s review what seem like the top three highlights, jog to Riverside, and then finish up with the bottom of the ballot.

Gabriella with Bryson

The moderator of a candidate forum stands between Wendy Gabriella, at right, and Anna Bryson, at left, her expected opponent in the November runoff elec– … uhhhhhh — OH NO WHAT’S THAT IN THE MAILBOX IS IT ANOTHER PIECE ON BRYSON FROM CHARLES MUNGER? OHHH PLEASE PLEASE NO NO I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!

1. OC Board of Education election finally changes the majority … or DOES it?

The extremists were calling for “one more seat” — and that’s exactly what they got.  Lincoln Club matron of honor Linda Lindholm outspent Liz Dorn Parker by an ungodly amount and was able to knock her out by about 12 points.  So is all lost?  NO, because the other sane one on the ballot, David Boyd beat his challenger Tom Pollitt by 15 points.

I yet haven’t discussed this with anyone else, but the correct play is obvious: recall crazy homeschooler Robert Hammond from the relatively moderate District 1.  If Long Pham would like his old seat back in November, I’ll bet that he’d have lots of support!  And, of course, Dems could be really competitive in this district as well.  Republicans can either tell Hammond that they don’t want to defend him in the recall and run a better candidate — or they can stake their bet on this especially lousy horse.  The non-extremists have to coalesce around someone now.  (Art Pedroza, stay out of it this time!)

2. Jim Moreno can’t slip past Allan Mansoor to take on Michelle Steel — or CAN he?

The results of the 2nd Supervisorial District race is clear.  Michelle Steel didn’t break 50%, though she almost doubled the total of her nearest competitor, Allan Mansoor.  (Will Dems support Mansoor over Steele?  It would require unlearning a lot of what they know of him….)  Democrat Jim Moreno is a little more than 1000 votes back.  As the only Democrat, Moreno is likely to get a whole lot more provisional ballots than any of the three Republicans.  Could there be enough to allow him to close the gap?  Probably not — but let’s find out how many there are before we declare this one over.  By the way: I think that without Joe Carchio in the race, Steel wins outright.

We can declare Rudy Gaona‘s race for the 4th district seat over, as Shawn Nelson crushed him.  In the 5th District, Frank Ury joins Joe Williams on the bench.  Lisa Bartlett led for much of the night, but Robert Ming came back at the end to take the race.  Where do the Ury and Williams votes go?  Does anyone want support from Democrats?  This race looks likely to be wild and expensive.

3. Charles Munger’s meddling mailings will never be welcome in Orange County again

I did not expect to end the night feeling sorry for Anna Bryson, but finishing last in the field, behind even Paul Glaab, who had withdrawn from the race — is simply humiliating.  Did Bill Brough somehow plan this in advance?  If so, it was brilliant; he had me totally fooled.  (Was Munger in on the charade, if so?  No — nobody goes through the sort of humiliation he just did, by repeating the Leslie Daigle fiasco all over again but louder.  Brough had seemed to go belly up in the waning weeks of the election, but he somehow emerged as a strong second to Wendy Gabriella.  And unlike Bryson, Brough has not earned the hatred of Jesse Petrilla supporters — who are already going to be in a really bad mood due to Tim Donnelly being ambushed by another emissary of the party’s Romney wing.  But here’s the thing: will Petrilla and his flock fall into line — or would they rather see two years of Gabriella than twelve years of Brough?  Will Brough have to run way to the right to pick them up?  If so, that leaves space at the ideological center of the district for Gabriella, who can run a bit more to the right without losing any of her current support.

4. A quick detour to San Berdoo

I cannot tell you how deep an exhalation of relief accompanies San Bernardino County’s Pete Aguilar  emerging from another idiotically four-way-split Democratic race to finish 390 votes ahead of CA-31’s second-place running Republican.  Now I guess we have to wonder whether that result will hold up!  (See, there is someplace where Dems are more screwed up electorally than OC!)  He’ll face Paul Chabot in November, unless something else happens to screw over the Dems in this district.

5. Jorge Lopez was one of the most significant candidates on the ballot

He spent almost no money and got headlines only when he accused (apparently correctly) Guillory of improper collection of his signatures.  But no one in Orange County had a more significant effect on a big race than Jorge Lopez.  His almost 20,000 votes kept Webster Guillory from beating Claude Parrish by less than 10% in the primary a second straight time.  I’m not sure who keeps voting for Guillory — I suppose that it must be Democrats and NPPs, but if they’ve seen how the office works I can’t imagine why.

Lopez’s voters will naturally gravitate towards Guillory in a no doubt even more expensive runoff.  I don’t know which of them I prefer — but I’m guessing that it is whoever is willing to commit to putting Lopez in a position of serious high administrative responsibility in the office, empowered to kick butt and clean things up.  And Parrish needs him more than Guillory does — and doesn’t have the strained relationship.  Lopez is highly honorable and would not help to manage an ethically dirty office.  If Parrish wants to do the job honestly and right, he should be calling Lopez first thing in the morning and figure out what responsibilities he’d require to be (and remain) on the team.

People who voted for Lopez were taking the harder path — and I think he could swing them in November if he was given the ability to help make the office what it should be.  I can’t recall ever talking to Lopez about this possibility and I don’t even know if he’d be interested.  It would have to be a really good offer — by which I’m talking about authority rather than money.  But this could be a blessing in disguise, because someone as experienced, knowledgeable, gutsy, and incorruptible is exactly the sort of person that Parrish should need guiding him through the office if he does win in November.  Lopez knows who the talented and honest people are — shouldn’t Parrish want to benefit from such knowledge?

6. Nguyen and Woolery both crush divided fields

Hugh Nguyen‘s victory was pretty much a foregone conclusion to be reelected as Clerk-Recorder — but his getting 60% of the vote was not.  And Monica Maddox outscoring Gary Pritchard?  I would have lost a lot of money betting otherwise.  In the Auditor-Controller’s race, the only chance of beating Eric Woolery was to hold him below 50% in June and hope for a miracle.  His five opponents combined couldn’t do it — although Frank Davies rather than Mike Dalati did, as I suspected, have the best shot at taking him to the runoff.

7. In the four non-judicial countywide races with 1 or 2 candidates, my opponent finishes with the fourth most votes and I finish fifth.

Ha-ha, I jest.  (It’s true, but still a jest.)  Sandra Hutchens comes in first with 187,227 votes for reelection as Sheriff, Shari Friedenreich gets 179,213 for reelection as Treasurer, Al Mijares gets 162,262 to keep the position as County Superintendent of Schools, and Tony Rackauckas comes in fourth with 150,294.  I came in fifth, with considerably less.  Still, I spent not much more than a nickel per vote — and maybe less than that as the provisional ballots come in; how much did Racky spend on his?

Seriously: my friends seem to have a hard time comprehending how I could be in such a good mood after a 45-point shellacking.  (I had thought that I had a decent shot at only a 30-point shellacking.)  Here’s the thing: I gave 56,359 people — three out of every eleven voters — the glorious chance to say “no” to Tony Rackauckas.  I also spared the county the humiliation of his running unopposed a third straight time — this time after he blew the Kelly Thomas case!  After the Building Trades and my own Party Chair worked together to remove me from party office, I could not fundraise in the county and would not even use endorsements from people whom the Trades might subsequently target as well.  I got to say some things about the man that others have been afraid to say — and I got a nice big audience for it.  Yes, I’m sorry if I disappoint anyone, but I feel pretty damn good right now!

8. And then there are the judicial races

I’m happy that Judge Joanne Motoike got almost 77% of the vote in her race; sad that even 23% opposed her.  I’m happy that Thomas Martin and Fred Fascenelli helped hold Rackauckas ally Kevin Haskins below 50% so that KC Jones will get to take him on in the fall.  (I hope that they appear often together to discuss their histories and views; they’re both good speakers.)

I’m sad that Carmen Luege lost with 37% to Rackauckas ally Jeff Ferguson; I’m sad that Helen Hayden will end up with just around 39% against Judge Derek Johnson.

9. The State Controller’s race is sad

Do not talk to me about the statewide Controller’s race.  It makes me want to do bad things.  At least John Perez looks like he is edging out David Evans for the right to take on Ashley Swearengin — but it shoulda been Betty Yee, down by .2%.  OK, one last one before we move to a new recap.

10. The Anaheim Ballot Measures

Because everyone swallowed the lie that Measure C was just administrative clean-up rather than a way to hobble the city’s financial watchdog, nobody organized opposition to it until late in the game and it won by almost a 2:1 margin.  Measure D (reducing the Mayor’s term) and Measure E (using “safe and sane” fireworks to burn everyplace in Anaheim down except the Hills — or so they think) had more attention before the election.  The former lost, and the latter won, by almost identical margins of just under 10%.

Next up — legislative races beyond the surprise in AD-73!


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.)