Anaheim Elections: Disney Slate Advantaged as Opponents Fissure the Vote?




Tor row (L-R): Arturo Ferreras (4), Ana R Martinez (5). Mark Lopez (5) Leonard Lahtinen (1) Jose Moreno; Bottom Row: Lucille Kring (4) Diana Blair (1) Stephen Faessel (5). Jordan Brandman (3), Steve Lodge (1).

(Left to right by row):  Top: Arturo Ferreras (4), Ana R Martinez (5). Mark Lopez (5) Leonard Lahtinen (1) Jose Moreno; Bottom: Lucille Kring (4) Denise Barnes (1) Stephen Faessel (5). Jordan Brandman (3), Steve Lodge (1).  Not pictured: a dozen or so others.

With the first week of filing complete, the four Anaheim City Council races have shaped up well-enough to start to handicap them.  And, as many people expected, the array of candidates looks favorable to the pro-Disney slate due to the likelihood of splitting the vote in most contests.  I’m getting some of my information for the line-up below from Matt Cunningham’s blog, which despite its wild inaccuracies in analysis and facts not easily verified, tends to be fairly reliable on basic facts about those the City Clerk lists as running for office.

The first thing to know is that there are two de facto slates — but most candidates are on neither.  The candidates who seem to be on Mayor Tom’s”Tait Slate” are in amber (essentially orange) and those on the Disney/Anaheim Chamber of Commerce/Pringle Ring/SOAR slate — let’s just call it “Disney Slate” — are in olive (essentially green.)

The second thing to know is: don’t trust that these lists are final until the last person leaves the Anaheim City Clerk’s office at or after at 5:00 p.m on Friday Aug. 12.  The stakes are that big –and the chicanery is likely to follow suit.

The third thing to know is that not all of the candidates are going to be serious.  We’ll try to go through them and weed them out.

District 1

Mayor Tait appears to be backing community activist Denise Barnes (who, despite her last name, is at least half-Latina, and despite being at least half-Latina, is a Republican.)  She spoke against the hotel giveaways at the last City Council meeting and made a good impression, but I know little more about her.  Two candidates have a conceivable hold on the DAPS slate — Republican Steven Albert “Chavez” Lodge of Murietta or so, and Democrat Leonard Lahtinen of the North Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees.  My guess is that Disney & Co. don’t actually know which candidate they will ultimately support (presuming that it’s one or the other.)  They may want to see whether Disney critics will destroy Steve Lodge once he gets into the race.  (Note: yes, we will –and with good reason and basis.)  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lodge be told, On the Waterfront style, that this wasn’t his race, and not end up on the ballot.  The other Republican in the race is Orlando Perez — and perhaps he’s the stealth candidate.  (I mean, he’s even named “Orlando”!)

The other three candidates are all from the left.  Mark Daniels is a big supporter of the Mayor’s who speaks often at Council, but does not seem to have an obvious source of fundraising.  Freddy Fitzgerald Carvajal is an appealing young man who was the last candidate turn in a “410 form” (related to fundraising) but is now firmly in the race.  Angel Vanstark is a young leftie from Anaheim who has recently returned , and whom OJB can now report is an apparent exclusive is actually “VanStark.” Daniels, Fitzgerald-Carvajal, and VanStark will likely draw from the pro-Disney Lahtinen (who is likely to get the Democratic officeholders and party endorsement because they are on the left, but also from Barnes because they are not Disney-Slatists.  Good news for Lodge, I suppose.  The bad news for Lodge is that Daniels in particular really knows his stuff when it comes to kleptocracy and may devote himself largely to blowing Lodge out of the water.  Connor Traut is always, always, always a possibility to jump into the race, no matter what he or anyone else claims.

District 3

Until recently, this looked like a clear one-on-one match-up between incumbent Jordan Brandman of the Disney Slate (seeking to represent what was drawn as a majority-Latino district) and Dr. Jose Moreno of the Tait Slate, who will be hampered by two candidates — Brandman’s friend Linda Lobatos and the mysterious Jennifer Rivera (not the tragically deceased singer) splitting the Latino vote.  Then things got interesting with the insertion of a Republican candidate, Robert Nelson, into the race.  Cunningham seems convinced that this is a dirty trick on the part of the Tait camp.  He might well think so, given that Rivera’s running is a dirty trick (last employed against John Leos four years ago) on the part of the anti-Moreno camp.  (Lobatos will say that she’s serious about the race, just as she was serious about her race against Al Jabbar against a Republican for the Anaheim Union High School District two years ago.  At some point, if she hasn’t already done so, she will hopefully figure out that she’s just taking votes away from progressive Dems and empowering Republicans and anti-progressive Dems.)  But my sense is that Nelson has simply figured out that in a race between four Democrats (at least three of whom seem to be actual people), a Republican has the chance to come into the race and steal away the most Latino and most liberal district in Anaheim.  Vote splitting: it can do some weird things to people.

District 4

Only Tait Slate Democrat Arturo Ferreras and Disney Slate Republican Lucille Kring have filed 410 forms to indicate that they intend to be living, breathing, fundraising, serious candidates.  Of the others: I know nothing about Christopher Dunshee.  I’ve been told that Robert Williams is an eloquent and impressive African-American Republican — who nevertheless gave a speech on his own behalf at a Democrats of North Orange County event this past weekend.  (So either he’s a Democrat after all, or pretending to be one, or the DNOC just forgot to ask him, or the DNOC decided not to follow the rules.  I’m not going to rank-order those possibilities.)  As for Joe Moreno, this guy is a walking dirty trick, who apparently exists in the political world only to convince people who don’t examine him closely that he is actually Anaheim’s bright Latino civil rights leader Dr. Jose Moreno.

If Joe Moreno remains on the ballot, it will be a good opportunity for flyers to be posted all over the Fourth District saying something like:

DON’T BE FOOLED!  The “Joe Moreno” on your ballot is NOT “Dr. Jose F. Moreno,” but someone pretending to be so that you will vote for him rather than ARTURO FERRERAS, and will therefore elect anti-Latino racist Lucille Kring.  DON’T HELP RACIST KRING BY VOTING FOR THIS FAKE MORENO.  VOTE FOR FERRERAS!

But that may not be necessary, because Moreno’s employer — with whom I’m told that he still works, but that’s secondhand information — not only went after him when he ran against Tom Daly in 2012 despite being a county employee, but they ALSO went after his co-worker Paula Williams who was trying for a non-partisan seat on the Fullerton City Council/  So they won’t allow him to run while he is employed.  If someone forces the issue early enough this time — and bet on that happening — I expect that he’ll withdraw from the ballot to keep his job, just like he abandoned the race against Daly in 2012.  It would be nice to hear Kring condemn this dirty trick.

[ADDED 8/3]: Jonathan Meeker, about whom this corner of OJB knows nothing.

District 5

UPDATE, 7/25:  Adding Sandra Angel — an unhinged-sounding Trumpublican — to the list per this post by Matt Cunningham.  Who does it hurt?  Probably takes Republican votes away from both Faessel and Lopez.  Comparatively, it helps Donna and Ana R. — but there isn’t likely enough support for both of them.  Can Ana R. be convinced to exit the race?  Probably only if Donna shows enough fundraising that Ana R. sees her candidacy as futile.  Time’s a wastin’!

UPDATE, 8/8:  Adding Thomas Anderson, who filed his 501 on August 3.  Anyone know anything about him?  More importantly, how come Matt Cunningham, who seems to get fed inside info as soon as it pops up within the City Government, hasn’t written anything about him?  Is he someone’s stealth candidate?

ORIGINAL TEXT: The Tait Slate is putting up Latino Republican Mark Lopez, Assistant Chief of Staff to Supervisor Shawn Nelson.  The Disney Slate is putting up Stephen Faessel, who will be getting those nice Disney-related donations and that nice independent expenditure money.  I have been told that Faessel is a Republican, but haven’t verified it.  Of the others, I can find nothing about Janette “Red” Lister except that she exists on Facebook.  (Note that a relevant part of the City website isn’t reporting results right now.)  Ana R. Martinez is a Democrat who would probably take votes away from Lopez, but doesn’t likely have the fundraising capacity to win.  This is all the more true if Donna Acevedo Nelson — who is incidentally the wife of OJB’s owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief Vern — gets into the race.  Each of them seem likely to take votes away from Lopez — but don’t be shocked if another white guy gets into this race before filing closes.


In case you haven’t done the math, each person on the Tait Slate is Latino (although Barnes’s surname is not) and each person on the Disney Slate is non-Latino.  (The sole possible exception is Lodge, but despite his mother’s maiden name he has not been viewed as Latino before he suddenly hit on the strategy to publicly identify as much, implicitly though the name “Chavez,” in 2012 — and in other contexts than elections still isn’t.)  I would have bet good money prior to filing against the choice between the slates being so blatant — but here we apparently are!

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.)