Supervisor Katrina!




Original Title: “Foley Finishes First in Second Supervisorial Scrum.”

UPDATE: According to the VOC, Moorlach has conceded.

With the race over, we’re putting the few updates needed above the double line.  Everything below the line is in chronological order.  What’s above that line is in reverse chronological order, to keep the final report on top.

OJB: Now we’ll take a look at what’s changed in the past couple of days! [Narrator: Almost nothing has changed in the past couple of days. ]

Update, Fri. 3/12: 108 new votes were tabulated .  Gen. Juanito Moorlachio is still in a strong second place, trailing by 12.30%.

Update, Thurs. 3/11

An additional 14,600 or so ballots have trickled into the count on Wednesday and Thursday, pushing turnout from 24.3% of registered voters to 28%.  Here’s how the percentage totals have changed from before and after the more recent 3.7% increase in turnout, which represents 13.21% of the overall vote.  (The total went from 95,907 to 110,504.)

  • Foley: 44.28% to 43.79%
  • Moorlach: 30.98% to 31.47%
  • Muldoon: 11.24% to 11.56%
  • Vo: 9.03% to 8.94%
  • Rappaport: 4.46% to 4.25%

These numbers tell an interesting story: a story of two elections.

Let’s look at the combined showing, before and after, for Foley and Moorlach.  Before the last , they two combined received 75.26% of the vote.  After that latest 14,897 votes were added — not a small addition out of about 110,000 votes! — they top two candidates had received … 75.26% of the vote.  Exactly the same amount, to the hundredths place!  That’s pretty wild!

What that means is that for a tad over 3/4 of the electorate, this election was simply a choice between the two party-endorsed front-runners.  Foley won 58.19% of that vote; Moorlach won 41.81%.  That’s a 16.38% margin; or about a 4-to-3 ratio.

The three also-rans combined won a consistent 14.74% of the vote.  Muldoon went up 0.32%, Vo lost 0.09%, and Rappaport lost 0.21%.  (We’re deep into rounding error territory here.)  In other words, almost nothing happened.

I’ve been making the same assumption about the split in party identification as most others have, but now it’s time to abandon it.  Yes, nominal Republicans won about 52% of the vote to the Dems’ 48%.  But that’s misleading in two ways, which operate in two different directions.

First, I have my doubts as to how many people even knew that Rappaport was a Democrat.  If a Democratic-leaning voter didn’t vote for Foley in this race, they were not likely “gettable.”

Second: While the combined vote total of Moorlach and Muldoon almost match that of Foley’s, I have a hard time thinking that the “I like Murdoch, but I like Muldoon just a little bit more” was that substantial.  I suspect that Muldoon had just decided not to vote for Murdoch, period — with their main alternatives being voting for Foley, voting for Vo, voting for Rappaport — or (most likely) not voting at all.  The same analysis, switching out the names, goes for Vo voters as well: I doubt that they were making a hard decision between Moorlach and Vo; more likely it was between Vo and Muldoon, or Vo and Not Voting.

In other words, I suspect that if you eliminated the “second election” between the bottom three candidates, the 4:3 ratio in the first election would have … stayed pretty much where it is.  Few voters would have stepped into that “first election” — and likely not nearly enough to get Moorlach up to 50%.  (Even a Do endorsement of Moorlach, combined with Vo and Muldoon dropping out of the race, probably wouldn’t have done it.  Viet voters not coming out for Moorlach was probably already baked in.  I honestly don’t get the Republican antipathy towards Moorlach (beyond it being pushed by Do), but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

Could Muldoon or Vo have won a straight up, one-to-one race against Foley?  Maybe — but I don’t think that the brunt of Viet voters would come out for Muldoon or that the brunt of Muldoon voters would come out for Do; I think that the respective pro-Viet push to vote in Greater Little Saigon or, my sense is, the likely anti-Viet sentiment in Newport Beach would have turned people out.  And, of course, I’m not convince that real anti-corruption Moorlach voters would have roused themselves to support either.

The logical conclusion here is that Republicans beating up on Muldoon and Vo is probably unfair.  Nevertheless, as a Democrat I hope that the Republicans keep on doing it.  Muldoon has likely harmed himself, and I’m fine with that.  Beating up on Vo will likely alienate the Vietnamese community — and after a year where Viets came out hard for their Asian Republican candidates, a little bracing alienation (in which Viets learn that Newport Beach Republicans still don’t really respect them as their potential leaders) might be just desserts for all concerned, while Democrats continue to work on winning over the younger generation.

Look, we’ve hit the double-line!

In a first past the post election, not even Janet Rappaport can sap away as many voted from Foley as Muldoon and Vo can from Moorlach

Her are the figures on turnout in the first pass.  (Second report comes out at 9:00.)


  • 22.8% Ballots Cast
  • 90,236 Vote Center Ballots
  • 0 Vote by Mail Ballots
  • Registered Voters 395,296

Presumably, we will see vote by mail ballots coming in, but it would be surprising to see a sizable enough red shift in them.

Presuming the results show up, Costa Mesa will now be led by the first tongue twister in recent memory: “Mayor Marr”.  That refers to Vice-Mayor Andrea, with whom Foley has been simpatico.

Who will replace Mayor Marr in District 3?  Marr’s opponent in 2018 was Brett Eckles, but it’s doubtful that a Foley-friendly majority — if there still is one, which I haven’t yet assessed — would tilt his way.  We’ll check with the Pot Stirrer to see who else might live there — IF district boundaries stay the same!

Here come the 9:00 results!

Moorlach begins his comeback! And ends it, if those results from all precincts mean that all votes are counted. And if they are, there is really NO EXCUSE for that sort of extreme efficiency! I had blocked out my entire evening for this, Neal!

Foley slips by an entire 0.57%!  The two Democrats no longer have a (unnecessary in a plurality wins contest) combined above 50% of the entire vote!  LET THE RECRIMINATIONS BEGIN!

(Oh, what’s that?  The recriminations had already begun before the vote?  Well, all right then!)

For the record, Moorlach gained 0.61% in the first update.  Muldoon gained 0.17%.  Vo lost 0.11% of the vote share.  And Rappaport lost 0.09% of the vote share.

At this rate, given Foley’s original lead in the advance vote of 15.96%, Moorlach would eventually overtake Foley’s 14.77% advantage over him, but at a rate of 1.19% gain per 2,192 added votes it would require 27,207 votes to be counted, which — while not impossible in a race where the votes of 300,000 votes haven’t been tallied (and where everyone who voted by mail after March 1 or so may not yet be in the count), is pretty much impossible, especially because the remaining categories of last minute voters, ballot damagers, paper balloteers, and a few others tend to vote Democratic anyway.  We here in the newsroom are just trying to keep it interesting for you at this point!

Here’s the 9:30 update!

OK, 5,236 votes minus 2,192 equals 3,044 new votes are in!

Foley has dropped by 0.70%, which is actually a little slower of a drop than her vote in the first update, given that this is based on more votes.  Moorlach is up by 0.56% — less than in the first update — closing the 14.77% gap we saw last to 13.51%.  So this is looking less likely to be a blowout, but still not likely to change.  He needed a bit more than 12 results like the first update to overtake Foley; now he needs a bit more than 11 — and he’s used up a bit more than 1-1/3 the number of cotes to do it!

In the recrimination watch, the combined Democratic vote is now 48.89%.  Muldoon’s lead over Do is slightly wider than at first.

What will a Foley win mean for county governance?  Well, one thing we know is that nobody likes Don Wagner, which is a sign of intelligent life on the Board.  So if this is going to be a matter of a 3-2 majority, there will be four possibilities for the rest of this cycle (after which, again, we will see redistricting):

  1. Bartlett, Chaffee, Do vs. Foley & Wagner.  This would be the coalition — substituting Foley for Steele that has brought a modicum of sanity to the Board recently, but it seems the least likely line-up.
  2. Bartlett, Chaffee, Foley vs. Do & Wagner.  Do (who I’m told does not like Moorlach) had as much to do with this result as anyone but Foley, by endorsing Vo, so this seems unlikely on political grounds, but I could easily see this happening on policy grounds.  Chaffee and Foley are natural Democratic allies — though see below! — and Bartlett probably has more tolerance of working with them than the more partisan Do does.  Probably the most likely on most 3-2 splits, but less likely than 4-1 splits with Wagner losing.
  3. Chaffee, Do, Foley vs. Bartlett & Wagner.  This could come about on some issues pitting South County against the rest, but I don’t think it’s that likely because of my suspicion — based on knowledge of each of them though no knowledge of their relationship — that Bartlett and Foley are really going to get along on the Board.  They’re the two coastal reps, which gives them some commonality on issues, but stylistically they’re both smart, aggressive, capable women.
  4. Bartlett, Do, Foley vs. Chaffee & Wagner.  This might seem like the least likely possibility, but I think it’s actually second or third most likely!  It won’t happen if Chaffee doesn’t try to dominate Foley and exert his greater experience on the Board.  But if he does demean her, subordinate her, or ignore her even a little bit — than I think that she would be willing and able to sting him like a scorpion.  Bartlett and Do would seem to have some interest in seeing this happen on as many issues as possible.  Does Chaffee have the chops to prevent it — even if he ends of lower on the Board’s pecking order than Foley?  I honestly don’t know — but I think that Foley’s performance in Costa Mesa suggests that she has better chops than Chaffee’s performance in Fullerton suggests of him.  This might not come about much because if he’s behind 3-2 Chaffee might switch to make it a 4-1 — but we’ll see what happens to his pet projects and such to read the writing on the Kremlin wall.

Oh, look — it’s 10:00!  Time for the last update of the night!

This will be it until 5:00 tomorrow afternoon — but it suggests that we need not really hold our breath awaiting the outcome.

Another 441 votes are in.  Foley drops down by 0.12%; Moorlach goes up by 0.07%.  The percentage margin shrinks from 13.51% to 13.34%.

In absolute terms, the margin falls from 12,855 to 12,719 — a pickup of a not-negligible 136 votes.  Moorlach beats Foley by 203 to 67, with 93 for Muldoon, 63 for Vo, and 7 for Rapaport (and 8 presumably write-ins, empty, or spoiled.)  In some ways, though, those strong showing by Muldoon and Do are what tells the story.  In what was obviously an incredibly conservative precinct (or drop box location, or whatever) where Moorlach trounced Foley by a tad over 2-to-1, he still took only 70% of the Republican vote — and it did move things that much.  And there aren’t that many really conservative areas out there.

For what it’s worth, Foley’s campaign declared victory no later than 10:30 p.m. on Election Night.  The outcome might be technically still in play, but it’s hard to argue with that call.

UPDATE: Nope!  Moorlach has conceded.  Foley is Supe!


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr 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.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)