OC GOP shows its character choosing Harkey over Raths for South-County Supervisor.

It needs to be said periodically, on this blog, that no matter how many complaints we have about the DPOC (OC Democratic Party), the OC GOP (OC Republican Party) is always WORSE.

You might not get that picture here, since Greg and I (two Democrats who dominate this blog) share the philosophy no, personality no, CHARACTER, of “clean your own house first.” But as much as we find the DPOC compromised and sometimes corrupt (due mostly to the influence of some short-sighted greedy unions as well as the Manichean maneuvers of a few ambitious insiders) … the OC GOP is always WORSE. Especially under the leadership of valueless, money-chasing Fred Whitaker (below.)

EXHIBIT ONE, today’s exhibit: The OC GOP’s decision on which Republican to endorse in next year’s race for Lisa Bartlett’s termed-out south-county (district 5) Supervisor seat. Faced with a choice last month between the following candidates, whom do you think they chose?


  • GREG RATHS, a Marine colonel, Mission Viejo councilman and former Mayor, who’s been one of the more respectable and well-liked of Orange County’s Republicans in recent years?

Why, you already know, they picked Harkey, choosing the unethical, predictable insider over the ethical, independent conservative, Colonel Raths – reportedly for two main reasons: they thought she’d do better fundraising, and they’ve been pissed at Greg ever since he primaried the equally dishonest Republican insider Mimi Walters in 2014 and 16.

Well, that second reason should be a badge of honor, and the first one doesn’t hold water either. Sure, the OC GOP was dazzled when Diane quickly loaned her own campaign $200 grand (and isn’t bothered by the way she originally acquired all her money) but Greg says he fundraises circles around Diane – he easily raised $1.4 million in 2020, without bilking a single Senior citizen! But also:

Why endorse so freaking early, before district lines are drawn?

It’ll only be a few weeks before we know what the new Supervisorial Districts will look like, and they’ll be different from what they are now… so why not wait a little longer to endorse? (Yeah, I know that the DPOC united behind their Fireman Guy even earlier, but that’s on them.) Some of the possible maps would not even put Greg’s Mission Viejo into the same district as Diane’s Dana Point. One possibility is a long south-County coastal district which would include Diane Dixon’s Newport, for a Battle of Two Dianes – this premature endorsement is unfair to her and others!

And one more thing, attempting to take the point of view of an imaginary sensible OC GOP:

The Biggest Loser

Both candidates will call each other electoral losers with some reason, as they have both suffered defeats as our county turns bluer. But I propose that Diane is the bigger loser. Consider: Greg lost to national rockstar Democrat Katie Porter last year, but that was after beating out four other – no, Greg corrects me, SIX other – south county Republicans in June for the privilege of facing Porter. And that’s the electorate (minus Irvine) that’ll probably be voting for south-county Supe.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad (as a progressive) that Katie won, but one reason was that she was nearly ten times better funded – the national GOP decided to focus more on the useless Michelle Steel and Young Kim. And still Greg came closer to beating Katie in 2020 than Diane did against unknown Democrat Mike Levin in 2018. (And THAT race was ANOTHER time that the OCGOP chose to endorse Harkey over another decent military veteran Republican, Rocky Chavez – ANY woman is better than ANY veteran?)

Meanwhile Greg has won resoundingly in Mission Viejo, TWICE, in 2014 & 2018, while the last time Diane won a race was Board of Equalization in 2014 – a six-figure position where she did nothing anyone can tell you about, and abandoned ship in 2018 to run and lose for Congress, leaving the BoE seat to a nominal Democrat, another loss you’d think the OC GOP would care about.

Connected to not having run for, won, or held any local office in a decade, Diane Harkey is OUT OF TOUCH. Living off her husband’s ill-gotten gains in Dana Point’s Ritz Cove (right) she couldn’t be expected to be familiar with the everyday problems and concerns of south county residents, but does still rub elbows with lobbyists and politicos. Still, maybe that’s all good, with the OC GOP.

Raths in June!

(November up for grabs.)

Here’s my thing. As a progressive I disagree with Colonel Raths on a lot of issues, and I know he’s done and said some silly things in the past like many politicians. But I think all Republicans and independent-minded folks in south County should support him in the June primary over Diane Harkey. (After THAT we can determine who’s better, him or the Democrat.)

Not only would Diane add YET MORE corruption and cruelty to what’s already on the BoS, it would also be a very demoralizing outcome for that unrepentant financial crook and elder abuser to finish her career in such a powerful and highly compensated position.

Greg was right on the 241 toll-road extension.

In the North County, my litmus test is a politician’s position on POSEIDON, to determine if that politician is well-informed, sensible, and not paid-off. Greg doesn’t know much about Poseidon which isn’t surprising, as it wouldn’t directly affect Mission Viejo (although we suspect a big local impetus to the boondoggle is freeing up more water for further south county development.)

But something Greg should really emphasize to his south-county voters is that he always opposed the extension of the 241 toll road into the heart of San Clemente – something the TCA fought for tooth and nail but has finally given up on. Harkey backed that plan enthusiastically, which probably didn’t help her while running against Mike Levin, who has been righteous on the issue. Greg supports the compromise solution agreed to more recently, known as the South County Traffic Relief Effort (SCTRE), involving no toll-road extension and saving San Clemente.

Harkey’s backing of the 241 extension into San Clemente, against enormous public outcry, and Raths’ opposition to it, are important because they’re symptomatic – this project was a Wet Dream of the entire Orange County “Kleptocracy,” which includes the TCA (toll roads agency), the OC Business Council, the more corrupt unions, and many other agencies we regularly battle. Harkey is an unquestioning supporter of the Kleptocracy – she takes their orders – and Raths is not and does not. And the latter is what we need desperately more of on the Board of Supervisors, which has been largely in the Kleptocacy’s pocket for decades.

Something I mentioned to Raths that he hadn’t put much thought into but NEEDS TO is the way the OC SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT habitually get everything they want from the BoS, up to and including the Supes’ upcoming diversion of millions of dollars of Mental Health Care money to expand the Musick Facility in Irvine into a huge “Mental Health Jail” run by the Sheriffs.

I trust Greg much more than Diane to stand up to the Sheriffs once he sees what’s happening, and you know who else does? Sheriff Don Barnes (left) who has given Diane Harkey his full-throated endorsement!


Just Three More Things…

1. I asked Greg what he’s most proud of in his record as Mission Viejo Mayor and Councilman, and that was easy: he says he’s reduced crime 20%, and reduced unemployment to 2%. And he gives credit to the FOUR branches of Mercy House they have down there, one tireless female deputy who goes around looking for Mission Viejo homeless and helping them find shelter, and the beefing up of “Neighborhood Watches” across town. Also, he’s very active in the MV Chamber of Commerce, which he says prioritizes helping SMALL BUSINESSES, America’s greatest employers. (It sounds like a MUCH better Chamber than Anaheim’s or HB’s. And we could use a Supervisor who cares about SMALL businesses.)

2. I don’t want to lose a single GOP vote for Greg with this post, but when I covered the 2019 debate between Republicans hoping to take on Katie Porte in 2020, MOST of the candidates including Greg sounded a lot more moderate than President Trump on several issues – including immigration. (And this was in front of an audience that was competing for a Trump hat.) That evening, Greg said he wanted “comprehensive immigration reform,” talked about the “brave DACA Marines” he had served with, and emphasized that we “need immigrant labor – we have more jobs than we can fill.” I’m just saying, he may be a conservative but he doesn’t seem like a hater.

(Meanwhile I remember Harkey back in 2011 as one of the only FOUR Republicans to grandstand in Sacramento against immigrants in favor of bringing Arizona’s “Papers Please Law” to California – a pointless performative display meant to virtue-signal “I hate Mexicans as much as you-all do!”)

3. What do you want to do as Supervisor, I had to ask. And, being a conservative, he says he has a lot of ideas for saving the County money! He says there are a lot of county employees doing unnecessary and redundant work, and he also sees, down in the south county, empty bus after empty bus roaming the south county streets. He has some idea of combining our public transportation funds with rideshare programs like Uber or Lyft – sounds interesting! Meanwhile he wants to “beef up” our county’s severely insufficient veterans services. (Well, that’s why we have conservatives, and ideas to cut down on waste – so that we can spend on better things! Checks out.)

That’s it for now. Now CUE all my Democrat enemies to start calling me a “RATHS SHILL.” First, I’m only trying to forestall the worst-case scenario of a Supervisor Harkey. Next, show me a decent Democrat candidate and I’ll certainly back them over Colonel Raths in November. Lastly, GO TAKE A SHORT WALK ON A LONG PIER. (So that you’re stuck halfway down the Pier for months and have to learn to fish & bum smokes.) Nelson out!

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 vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.