Mirvette Judeh Takes on Florice Hoffman for OC’s Top Cal Dem Party Position – now with video!




At left, Florice Hoffman posing at a party function; at right, two candids of Mirvette Judeh, emceeing a fundraiser last year for Dr. Jose Moreno, just after she whipped him at a push-up contest.  (I mean it; she WHIPPED him.)

Here’s the lede, lest I bury it: California Democratic Party Board Member Mirvette Judeh has decided to take on incumbent Florice Hoffman for the position of Regional Director for “Region 17,” which consists of Assembly Districts 65, 68, 69, and 72.  This is a surprise to me personally: we’re friendly, we’ve worked together on various campaigns (including those of Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders), and yet I had had no idea that her candidacy was in the works.  (I do have an idea of why I didn’t know, and I don’t take it personally.)

Florice, who has strong Building Trades support and traditionally strong ties within the women’s community — ties being tested this month with her support for Eric Bauman over former Emerge California Executive Director Kimberly Ellis for CDP Chair — had been looking like she might run unopposed.  It looks like various of us independently tried to conjure up ways to change that, and Mirvette’s candidacy apparently become the consensus solution.  Mirvette — who has also had good ties with people within the labor movement, but who is not a major player within it — will provide Florice with strong and energetic insurgent competition.  The electorate is composed of all CDP delegates from the four Assembly Districts mentioned above; voting will take place at the convention  in Sacramento between May 19 and 21.

Various kinds of nastiness sometimes emerge in such late challenges, and OC politics is not beyond being nasty, but we can all individually and collectively do something about that.  If you get nasty calls or contacts — including veiled or stark threats — from people on any side of any race (not just this one), consider speaking up.  I have my own views on these races, and would hope to ground them in factual assessments wherever possible — but beyond those views is the bedrock belief that votes should reflect one’s judgment of who would actually be better in a position rather than who has promised one the most goodies or threatened one with the worst consequences for “refusing to cooperate.”  I invite you to hold me and those I support to the same standard as those whom I do not support — and blow the whistle without fear or favor on what you see happening either in public, behind the scenes, or even only to you.  (Expect pushback if your story seems off.)

Now here’s what I started writing before I realized I was about to bury the lede.

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Most of the attention in local Democratic political circles in recent months has gone to the State Party Chair race, where current CDP Male Vice-Chair Eric Bauman faces a challenge from insurgent Kimberly Ellis, with OC’s own hapless perpetual State Bar Ethics Board target Lenore Albert-Sheridan — yes, I will back that up with facts — also in the race to, most people seem to think, drain away votes from any gullible Berniecrats from Ellis.  Aside from some other state officer positions, and some State Party Caucus positions, the most powerful races decided at the convention are the 20 (or so) “Regional Director” positions, each of which is the primary liaison between the state party and the four assembly districts they are assigned.

We few Democratic members of Assembly District 55 (represented by Philip Chen) comprise 1/8 of Region 15, represented by Bauman’s longtime assistant Clark Lee (one of the most affable people in local politics.)  We have not much influence in much of anything there, and so far as I know no one is running against Clark.  In the Southernmost portions of the county, Assembly Districts 73 (represented by Bill Brough) and 74 (represented by Matt Harper) are bound in Region 18 with Districts 75 and 76, both in San Diego County.  This is an especially unwieldy district; DPOC members Denise Penn and Deborah Sklurnik  are running against one Ellis supporter from San Diego (whose name I don’t recall.)

Most of OC — right around 8/13, if you do the math — is part of Region 17, which includes the County’s two Democratic Assembly Members (Sharon Quirk-Silva in District 65 and Tom Daly in District 69) as well as Districts 68 (represented by Steven Choi) and 72 (represented by Travis Allen.)  This is, more than the others, considered “the” OC seat within the state party — the only one for several years that has had an OC resident as its Director.

For the past four years, that Director has been DPOC Treasurer and longtime Teamster’s Union lawyer Florice Hoffman.  [Disclaimer:  Historically, Florice and I are often antagonistic, despite having friends in common and sharing most — though definitely not all — views on political issues.  Out of fairness, I’m going to try to avoid characterizing her in this story.]

Until yesterday, the second-to-last day of filing, it looked on the surface as if Florice would be running unopposed.   Now, that has changed.  Mirvette Judeh, a CDP Executive Board member, DPOC member, and a leading figure in the county’s Muslim community, has filed to run against her.

Note that Mirvette and I have worked together on various races, including the Bernie Sanders campaign, the Kamala Harris campaign, and for Jose Moreno’s City Council races — as well as being actively engaged with Anaheim’s reform concerns generally.  (I can attest from that experience that she’s hard-working, reliable, honest, inquisitive, candid, and socially skilled.  And really funny.)  We both support Ellis for Chair, though I take it that I have been doing so a bit more actively.  But while I knew that someone was likely to run against Hoffman, and knew (and liked) the only candidate of whom I was aware, I had had no idea that Mirvette was running until yesterday afternoon, hours after she had filed.

I really liked the candidate whom I had supported behind the scenes.  (I won’t identify that person, who is not historically a close ally of mine, because the anonymous hyenas in the Liberal OC comments section would, predictably, savage that person’s reputation.  If that makes you sick, you’re welcome to speak up.)  But with the path having been cleared for Mirvette, I find myself feeling quite pleased — and not merely because I like her personally.

Suddenly, this race seems like a major opportunity for Orange County to remedy a huge deficiency in Democratic politics statewide: the glaring lack of Muslim representation among our Party Officers and Regional Directors.  (If there ever has been one, and admittedly the party’s online historical records are pretty sparse, Muslims now active in the party aren’t aware of it.)  So that’s the theme I want to focus on today: Orange County could elect a Muslim woman to be part of the central infrastructure of the State Democratic Party.  A Muslim woman, in fact, who has everything she needs to be an outstanding role model.

When I spoke to Mirvette yesterday evening, she was all about the issues, largely “process” issues such as the breadth and composition of who makes decisions, “top-down versus “bottom-up,” and the manner in which the party’s leaders treat others who aren’t.  When I pointed out that her candidacy was in some respects groundbreaking, it seemed like — if the thought had occurred to her at all — it hadn’t been at the forefront of her mind in motivating this challenge.   Yet I want to start off today on a reasonably objective footing, so this is the story I think it’s worth telling.

Region 17 in OC is one of the few places in California with a large enough Muslim population, spread over the four Assembly Districts, that the desire to serve an underserved surpasses a threshold where the absence of that representation is truly felt.   My sense is that the political leaders of the Muslim community in California have generally come from religious, cultural, professional, and issue-oriented groups, but not so much from the formal political structure in which all of this is supposed to mix.  And Mirvette, with her deep ties to the community, gregarious personality, and passion for social justice — especially as a Muslim woman who won’t be subjugated — is an excellent person to blaze such a trail.

She wears her traditional religious practices on her sleeve (and most of her hair), yet like the best clerics and laypersons of other religions she is generous and engaging towards those of other faiths.  She regularly makes common cause with the Latino community and the broader Asian community while taking an interest in the broader ecumenical issues — such as corruption in Anaheim and what it portends for future generations.

But she’s also a “get in your face and mix with the crowd” sort of populist leader.  As the person who arranged and emceed a fundraiser for Dr. Jose Moreno’s campaign last year at Desert Moon restaurant in Little Arabia, she left any gender-plus-religion stereotypes one might have had in the dust.  I’ll just say it: at one point, she challenged Moreno (who has had a reputation for being a little on the serious-to-solemn side) to a push-up contest on the dining room floor.  What she did to that poor man would have destroyed a weaker soul — but, as you can see from the photos above, a visibly loosened-up Moreno took being thrashed (seriously, thrashed) by this athletic young mother in great spirits.  (He had to.  Otherwise he might have had to go another round with her.)  The crowd loved it.

This may seem like silliness, but anyone who’s been involved in electoral politics knows that it is not.  It’s a matter of having an easy way with people — some combination of interest, intelligence, decency, and above all actually liking the interactions with people who differ from you — and a genuineness that is hard to fake.  (Well, maybe it’s easy enough to fake by the standards of other people who are faking it as well, but once you get out of the private pool into the broader world — something that we Democrats desperately need to do — then it’s hard to fake.)

As both a decision-maker within the party and a liaison between the central party and the local party and the Democrats (and potential members of a Democratic electoral coalition) beyond the local party, Mirvette would be a breath of fresh air.  “Liaison” is part of the job description — and it also describes her perfectly.

Who knows what reports will emerge tomorrow, or in the weeks ahead, but this morning it’s just nice to recognize how the bounds of what is possible in Orange County politics just got a little wider.


UPDATE FROM VERN:  Mirvette’s announcement video, introduced by Victor and Monica.

Since this is a Facebook live video, I had to put it in the body of the story instead of comments.

Also, skip forward to 1:50 because the audio wasn’t working at first.

Progressive CA (D) Regional Director 'Region 17' candidate Mirvette Judeh (OFFICIAL) announcement for CA (D) Regional Director 'Region 17' campaign.>>[Technical difficulties until minute 1.50 forward the video to watch.]<<#Progressive#Region17LooksLikeThis#Time4Change#VoteMIRVETTE

Posted by Victor Valladares on Thursday, May 4, 2017

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.)