Baugh-Ha-Ha! OC Republicans’ CA-48 Clustercrash. (And Weekend Open Thread.)




I know, I know, last week’s sudden entry of Scott Baugh against his old patron and fellow Republican Dana Rohrabacher in the 48th Congressional District is supposed to make me, as a Democrat, lose sleep over the possibility that the two of them could manage to beat out all Democrats in June’s jungle primary.  But I’m too busy being entertained for now, by the spectacle.

I actually sympathize with Scott’s bold move – he’s been waiting SO long for Dana to retire and get out of the way, he was starting to remind me of Prince Charles waiting for his ancient mother to finally croak so he can be King of England.

Dana famously came into Congress fifteen terms ago, promising to stay for only three terms.  Ever since then he’s had some VITAL reason that he just has to stay for one more term, to save the republic.  In 2015, at a beach bonfire, he told me that he’d WANTED to retire for a long time but that he’d been an ESSENTIAL counterweight to the very dangerous President Obama.  He needed to hang on at least ONE MORE TERM (and run in 2016) just in case the equally hazardous Hillary prevailed.  (Pretty much implying that there are no other Orange Coast Republicans who could do such a creditable job of keeping the Antichrists in check!)

As things turned out that year, though, he got his dream President – the only other American politician who loves Putin and disdains Mexicans as much as Dana himself.  But does that mean he finally feels free to let go as Royce and Issa are?  No – Dana is hanging on now, hoping to get a Cabinet position from Trump!  Could you imagine a foreign policy rogue like Dana running Trump’s State Department?  No, don’t answer that.  (As John Bolton sullenly shaves off his mustache.)

This week at LAX – the Steels, some other scumbag, Trump. Pic by Voice of OC.

And then coming in 2020, the ultimate humiliation to Baugh – the high and rumored possibility that Dana could stab him in the back after all this time and give his nod instead to the intellectual featherweight Michelle Steel (just like he did four years ago when he stabbed Allan Mansoor in the back) in repayment of his eternal indebtedness to Michelle’s powerful husband Shawn.  No, Baugh had to move NOW.

And the OC GOP, in the person of Scott’s replacement Fred Whitaker, issued a stern rebuke to Scott for doing what HE’D prevented so many other ambitious Republicans from doing, warning darkly that his move “would not be held well.”  “Not held well,” is that really how Repugs speak to each other?  Sounds more effete than Downton Abbey.


I never did think much of Scott Baugh, the lobbyist who ran the OC GOP from 2004-15, fostering in it the kleptocratic quality it enjoys to this day.  What do we non-Republicans know about him?

He first got into the assembly in 1995, from Huntington Beach, in a crooked election featuring a fake paid-off third candidate – an election rigged by Curt Pringle and Dana’s future wife Rhonda (!) which not only launched Scott’s career but briefly got the Republicans a majority in Sacramento and made Pringle speaker.  Scott never got in trouble for that, but what an inauspicious start to his career.  He rose to be minority leader until termed out in 2000.

Elected head of the OC GOP in 2004, he oversaw a party that pushed crony-capitalism and “public-private partnerships” like his patron Pringle, doling out punishment to honest conservatives (like Erik Peterson) who dared to oppose boondoggles like Poseidon, toll roads, and untrammeled development.

In early 2010, apparently jealous of the passion and “principles” of the Tea Party, Scott imposed his “Baugh Manifesto” upon a reluctant party, forbidding Republican candidates from accepting contributions from public employee unions – a stricture that many candidates found, to quote Hamlet, “more honored in the breach.”

To be honest, the guy wasn’t interesting enough for us to cover much, before OR after being replaced by Fred Whitaker in 2015.  In 2011 we covered his insistence, at the OC Fair Board, to keep the alleged charitable giving of his “nonprofit” OC Marathon (supposedly to obese kids) totally secret, much to the frustration and suspicion of the Board.  In 2012 he showed up to Los Amigos to try to do Republican “outreach” to the Latinos there; at one point, just out of habit, he mentioned “illegals” and offended everyone;  later on, cluelessly or deceptively, he whined to The Weekly‘s Moxley that Los Amigos had taken exception to his saying “undocumented workers,” but that is not what he said.

But most of all, Scott would never talk to me.  Unlike Dana who takes my phone calls and laughs with me.  Dana has all the hatred, fear, and bad economic ideas that our parents do, but he’s got about a dozen wacky eccentricities that make him endlessly entertaining.  I am looking forward to seeing how the two Republicans will attack each other the next few months, especially Scott with his half a million dollars.  It’ll be REFRESHING.

But what we need this year more than ever is someone to help stop Trump, and that won’t be either Republican.  We got our own problems here on the Dem side, between our two frontrunners Harley Rouda and Hans Kierstead.  Hans managed to wangle the official Party endorsement, but then all three OC Democratic Congresscritters (Correa, Lowenthal, Linda Sanchez) defied the Party and backed Harley.  Today Dan Chmielewski, intoning that “rules are rules,” called on the Party to punish its three Congressmembers, and a minute ago Florice Hoffman wrote in to let Dan know he had read the rules wrong.  So the fun never stops, on either side.

Weekend Open Thread Now!

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.