Disappointments and Successes of the June 2022 “Primary”

We learned a few disheartening things in this month’s “primary” election, with its 35% turnout, so let’s get those out of the way first. (I put “primary” in quotes because it was the final election for many races, and a lot of people probably didn’t realize that, what with everyone calling it a “PRIMARY” and all.)

  • Todd Spitzer will be our D.A. for the next four years, and possibly forever, making a good case that we should never have let him into that seat in the first place. And he tried SO HARD, every way he could, to defeat himself – the racist psychobabble, the countless sexual harassment suits, the blowing of big cases, the messianic blowhardry and bullying! But apparently we are still a County susceptible to fearmongering and LA-phobia, so Todd was right about that. So, another four years (or forever) of depending on the FBI to ferret out OC corruption, and the Cal AG to do anything about our killer cops and sheriffs. [Todd got 62% to Hardin’s 21%; did voters just not vote that far downballot, did Democrats not bother? No. 93% of voters who bothered voting in this election voted in that race. They wanted ’em more Spitzer, no way around it.]
  • Al Mijares will continue to be our County’s Superintendent of Schools, possibly forever, which is okay, except the same voters have burdened him with a Board of Education full of saboteurs and nutjobs. Locked in a perpetual struggle akin to that between Archangel Michael and Lucifer, the good Superintendent will continue to be bedeviled at every turn by Williams, Barke, Sparks, Shaw, and whomever THEY foist on Beckie Gomez’ district! (CECI??) [But, as I check out the numbers in these three OCBOE races, I’ve made a discovery which below I’ll entitle “Central and North County turnout was anemic; South and Central County voted like motherfuckers!”]
  • We learned that only a Deputy District Attorney may become an OC Superior Court judge. And then, as we already knew, they will continue in their judge seat – probably forever – with nobody else daring to take them on. OC voters even gave a judgeship to the shameful Brahim Baytieh! The only non-DA that came in first in an OC judicial race this year was Michele Bell (right) – and she didn’t break 50% so she’ll be in a November runoff with Peggy Huang… who is (guess what?) an Assistant Attorney General, so good luck with that Michele. (That’ll be your only judicial vote in November – Bell vs. Huang.)
  • AND we learned that SanTanaheim, the bluest area of the County since time immemorial, which voted for Bernie Sanders in 2020, will continue to be served, possibly forever, by reactionaries Lou Correa, Tom Umberg and Tom Daly Avelino Valencia. A lot of us progressives were so impressed by the success of grassroots Santa Ana activists electing a really good Mayor and Council in Nov. 2020 (same time as the area went for Bernie) … but apparently what’s possible in a Presidential-year general election when FREAKING TRUMP is on the ballot is not the same as what’s possible in the “primary” of an “off year.” Nice try though, Boomer and Ortega. 🙁


North and Central County Turnout Was Anemic;

OK, I just discovered this, it’s dramatic, and I haven’t heard anyone else point it out: The turnout in the South County and Coastal County (up to like Seal Beach) was about TWICE what we had in Santa Ana / Anaheim / Fullerton. Does that always happen, or does it just happen in primaries, and what can be done about it?

Because check it out: 636,497 people voted in Orange County this election. The County is evenly divided into FIVE Supervisor Districts, and also into FIVE Board of Education “areas” – which don’t exactly coincide, but who cares? Dividing 636,497 by 5, you’d expect for each of those races to have an average of 127,300 votes cast.. Pero, look:


  • BoE Area 4, including Fullerton, La Habra, Anaheim; won by Tim Shaw with 38,819 votes, had a total of 67,702 votes cast, barely HALF the average you’d expect!
  • Supervisor District 4, including Fullerton, La Habra, Buena Park, Anaheim, in which Sunny Park got the most votes (30,904), had a total of 76,330 votes cast, ALMOST as anemic!
  • And most anemic of all (I hate to say) Supervisor District 2, including Santa Ana, Anaheim, Garden Grove and Orange, in which Vince Sarmiento got the most votes (21,916) had a mere 62,528 votes cast, LESS than half the average you’d expect.


Voting like M****RF**CK*RS:

  • BoE Area 2, including Seal Beach, Huntington, Newport, etc., won by psycho Mari Barke with 74,868 votes, did ABOUT THE AVERAGE YOU’D EXPECT, with 127,494 votes cast.
  • And going further south down the coast, well-heeled BoE Area 5 with all the Lagunas etc. down to San Clemente, won by Lisa Sparks with 98,682 votes, had WELL OVER THE AVERAGE VOTES CAST – as in, 152,916.
  • And even more amaze-balls, South-County Supervisor District 5, in which Democrat Katrina Foley got the most votes (64,888) had a whopping 175,393 votes cast – WAY over the average of 127,300. Also showing it’s less a partisan thing than a geographical thing. Katrina got more votes than Vincent and Sunny combined! They must eat really good primary food down there.


Surprisingly Well Done!

Nowadays in this once-red County, Democrats outnumber Republicans 677k to 603k, independents come in at 427k. In the last Presidential election 53.5% of us voted Democrat vs. 44.4% Republican. We Democrats always look at primary elections, which are never as spectacular as we’d like, and tell ourselves “More of us will come out in November!” That’s usually true, but will it be true still in this topsy-turvy time? I think this latest shit with Roe-v-Wade can only help. So long story short if a Democrat in the primary doesn’t quite make it to 50% we keep our fingers crossed, but if they break 50% in the primary I think we can say they’re:

“Sitting Pretty!”

  • Congress 47 – Superstar KATIE PORTER at 51.7% should be able to kick Scott Baugh’s butt in November!
  • Congress 46 – LOU CORREA has no worries at 49% running against Christopher Gonzales at 16% EVER.
  • Congress 49 – and MIKE LEVIN at 49% should be fine against Bryan Marriot.
  • State Senator TOM UMBERG is in no danger.
  • AD 67 – SHARON QUIRK-SILVA should be in no danger against Soo Yoo, even tho she didn’t quite make 50.
  • AD 68 – AVELINO VALENCIA should be very safe against old friend of the blog Mike “Junior” Tardif.
  • AD 73 – COTTIE PETRIE-NORRIS is totally SAFE (in more ways than one) at 56.2% against old mumbling Trumpy Steve Choi – this’ll be HIS last hurrah!. . .

“Fingers Crossed”

  • Congress 45 – JAY CHEN at 43.1% (will run against Michelle Steel – OC’s most important race!)
  • Congress 41 – DR. ASIF MAHMOOD at 40.9% (will run against Young Kim)
  • State Senate 36 – KIM CARR at 42.7% needs us to cross our fingers for her as she takes on evil Janet Nguyen.
  • State Senate 48 – If CATHERINE BLAKESPEAR at 42.9% picks up Joe Kerr’s 11.2%, she should be “sitting pretty” against Matt Gunderson.
  • AD 70 – DIEDRE NGUYEN at 39.71% will need fingers crossed and teeth gritted, against Communist TRI TA.
  • AD 72 – my old musical partner JUDIE MANCUSO, at 43.3%, has a chance to beat Diane Dixon.
  • AD 74 – not so sure about CHRIS DUNCAN, at 42 46%, against incumbent Laurie Davies. – I made a mistake, I didn’t realize that district is part San Diego County, and that part was better for Chris – so he has a chance in November! See comment below But who cares? It’s only the ASSEMBLY!
  • SUPE 5 I’m betting on KATRINA (41.76%) against old Pat Bates.

November’s Most Important Runoffs!

REALLY, who gives a shit any more about the Assembly and State Senate? Democrats have a pinche super-majority there. (It did seem like a good idea to get a real progressive fighter into the Assembly, but that’s not happening this year.) AMERICA needs us to not LOSE but ADD Democrat Congresspeople – it’s more existential by the month. So APART from re-electing Katie, Mike and Lou, which shouldn’t be too hard, our very most important jobs this Fall are:

Help Jay Chen beat Michelle Steel;


Help Dr. Mahmood beat Young Kim.

Number two, I agree wholeheartedly with the Democratic Party of OC that our next Supervisor Majority needs to look like this:

And finally, we gotta help David Dodson beat dirty Mike Schaefer in the Board of Equalization race. This is a bad incumbent Democrat against a good Democrat. The County Party should immediately endorse Dodson – unless that’s a State Party thing, then THEY should. Republicans and Independents should prefer Dodson as well. And if you don’t know why, Greg will be writing plenty about it, but for now there’s this.


Schadenfreude Corner!

This is where we are allowed to feel pleasure in the failure of certain folks who PROBABLY won’t be around polluting our politics any more. For example:

Diane Harkey. Has it really been FOUR TIMES (or 3?) that this darling of the OC GOP has lost, since the last time she won (for Board of Equalization in 2014)? I remember 2018 when the OCGOP chose her over decent moderate and veteran Rocky Chavez, who coulda won that South County / San Diego Congressional district, which made us Democrats glad because the unlikable Harkey was much easier for Mike Levin to beat. So that was good for everybody. Except Rocky.

THIS month, the OCGOP chose Diane EARLY ON to be their standard-bearer for South-County Supervisor. This choice was so objectionable that a gang of more reasonable Republicans convinced old termed-out Senator Pat Bates to jump in as well. The upshot – Harkey came in third with 18% and won’t be Supervisor.

But we don’t dislike Diane because she’s a loser; we’re glad she’s a loser because she has been a horrible person for decades, from (with her ex-husband) swindling countless elderly investors out of millions leaving many of them bankrupt, bashing immigrants when that was cool around 2010, and more recently becoming an enthusiastic Trumpy. So we raise a glass to Kurt Sipolski, and all the other Harkey victims alive and dead!


Speaking of that south-county Supervisor race, if it were up to the two County Parties it woulda been a race between Harkey and fire hero Joe Kerr – the DPOC endorsed HIM very early too, and THEN the district lines were redrawn, leaving him out. And by then he’d already admitted that he’d lived in Coto de Caza for decades so he couldn’t residence-fake his way outta THAT. So he ran for Congress instead, and came in 3rd with 11.2%.

A lot of us North County folks didn’t like or trust Joe since 2018 when he ran for Supervisor up here pretending that he’d moved to Fullerton or Placentia (kept changing) when everyone knew he lived in Coto. Dan C fell for it lock stock and barrel, the same Dan C who was Steve Choi’s worst nightmare for doing the same exact thing. Joe agreed to meet me for an interview in his north county home, but then he changed his mind and said “let’s meet at a fire station instead” because he’s such a fire hero you know. He came in 3rd that time too, and stopped pretending to live up here.

And then last year, JUST WHEN WE MIGHT HAVE BEEN GETTING OVER ALL THAT, Poseidon-loving governor Newsom put Joe on a powerful water board, for the SOLE PURPOSE of having Kris Murray’s back making regulations as lax as possible for the desal pirates. And when I called him to try to talk sense to him, he wouldn’t answer or return my calls.

Then there’s the fact that he can’t utter a sentence or two without saying “As a former firefighter…” Well, there weren’t enough firefighters in South County to elect Joe to office, and I hope he doesn’t try again.


AND FINALLY THERE’S THE CHAFFEES. This malignant and wealthy Fullerton power couple pretty much shrivels up everything they touch. It’s a little premature to celebrate the end of hubby Doug’s political career, but it’s hard to see his wife Paulette coming back again.

If you recall, Paulette’s political career began dismally in 2018, when, as her Mayor husband began his run for Supervisor, she tried to spread the web of Chaffeedom even wider by running for Fullerton Council in a district where everyone knew she didn’t live. To us carpetbagging connoisseurs, this was worse than simple legal carpetbagging AND worse than illegal (but never punished) residence faking: Fullerton had just finished a hard-fought districting battle to get better minority representation; this rich old white lady chose to run fraudulently in Fullerton’s poorest and most-minority district.

SO, naturally, Fullerton friends of ours posted hundreds of “No Paulette – Carpetbagger” signs (which I think you could agree was phrased as a gentle understatement.) The woman felt entitled to drive all over town and steal every one of those signs she could find; she was caught on camera by the actual sign-maker and got into a wee bit of trouble over it, and a great deal of embarrassment. She didn’t win that race, but to this day she snips, “I did NOT get arrested. I did NOT go to jail.”

Unchastened, Paulette jumped into the next available Board of Education race in 2020, only managing to split the Democratic vote with the even more pathetic Jordan Brandman and the worthy Dr. Vicki Calhoun – Paulette came in third after Vicki, and we have her to thank for the further extremism of the board by handing the election to rightwing yes-man Tim Shaw.

Maybe 2022 was her time, she thought, and ran against Tim again for that seat – but not only that, she had initiated a lawsuit against him on some bogus grounds that you shouldn’t also be a councilmember; Tim survived that but the move boomeranged onto the one sane BoE member, Beckie Gomez, who had to resign. And then, this month, Paulette lost again. So thanks to Paulette Chaffee, we went from ONE good BoE member to ZERO. Can she ever come back from that? I wouldn’t think so, but this couple DOES have no shame.

But back to 2018, and over to Doug‘s race for Supervisor. He and his wife have unlimited funds (albeit no friends), vicious temperaments and no respect for truth, so he blew all his opponents out of the water with salacious, false and half-true mailers. I was already aware of his record on the Fullerton Council – I WROTE THE FREAKING BOOK ON IT – and found it so dismal that I endorsed his Republican runoff opponent Tim Shaw, pissing off a lot of my fellow Democrats. But, you know, character and honesty should count for something? (And of course Doug beat Tim, who went on to be his wife’s 2020 & 22 opponent.)

Four years later, after experiencing Doug’s first term as Supervisor, OC Democrats have admitted I was right. Not in so many words of course (God forbid!) but they did pull the very rare move of OPPOSING a Dem incumbent and instead strongly backing challenger Sunny Park. DPOC chief Ada made the case to the Voice as well as I could: On the Board, Doug had formed a close alliance with fellow authoritarian transparency-hater Andrew Do, a Republican; and then when the Board got its first honest Democrat, Katrina Foley, they did everything they could to sideline her. Much more here from Ada.

And so the Democrats got behind Sunny Park, and she came in first, but will now have to face a Doug Chaffee with his back to the wall in the fall, and I can guarantee that’s gonna be vicious. He will lie about her, he will run to the right to try to pick up the Trumpiest of Republicans, he will paint her as some “woke” commie novice.

So in summation these should be the DPOC priorities for November:

  1. Jay Chen for Congress
  2. Supervisors Park, Foley & Sarmiento
  3. Dr Mahmood for Congress
  4. (Katie, Mike and Lou should be fine)
  5. Dodson for Equalizer; and
  6. Michele Bell for Judge!

And then, DPOC, please leave the local stuff to us local people. You guys don’t always know what is right, locally. Sometimes the best local person is NOT a Democrat. And some Democrats are a lot more trustworthy than other ones. And SOME Democrats really SUCK.


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.