Category Archives: elections
The dust has settled around the county after the most recent election. It looks like former senator John Moorlach has been trounced….again.
Moorlach will probably tell you (and he did) the reason he lost was due to those other silly Republican candidates that refused to drop out of the race. At the start line were five candidates three Republican, one Democrat and one pretend Democrat who later claimed she was running a non-partisan campaign. Huh….there hasn’t been a non-partisan race in Orange County in 50 years.
The non-partisan Democratic candidate, Janet Rappaport, has the qualifications if not the name recognition. She told other news outlets that she felt transparency was important and sadly lacking in the Supervisors’ office. Unfortunately, she was transparent enough in her campaign to show that she was heavily backed by the ultra-conservative Lincoln Club. That obviously outed her as a decoy to draw down the liberal vote. It was apparent she was out as any viable kind of candidate.
The three Republican candidates all had pretty good name recognition within the county. Kevin Muldoon, Mayor pro tem in Newport Beach, jumped into the race early on. Mayor of Fountain Valley, Michael Vo, waited a bit before signing on. Huntington Beach City Councilman, Michael Posey, was an early candidate but dropped out after pressure from John Moorlach and the OCGOP.
Katrina Foley was the only viable candidate to be fielded and endorsed by the Democrats. For a local candidate Foley, Mayor of Costa Mesa, has surprising name recognition in Southern California. She has served on the city council for more than ten years and before that she served on just about every committee and commission in Costa Mesa. She has shown she can do the job and, yes, we like her.
Then came John.
Fresh from a brutal beating at the state level, former Senator John Moorlach, was coming home to roost. A former county supervisor, he once said he was not a career politician and would not run beyond county office. Well, he must have forgotten that remark. When Moorlach ran for the senate in 2015, he handily beat his opponents, both of them Republicans, in a special election for Mimi Walters’ senate seat. He won the regular election again in 2016 against David Min. Unfortunately, in 2020, the tides changed in that part of Orange County and Min edged out Moorlach by a little over 12,000 votes. So what was an out of work former senator and blowhard supposed to do?
For Moorlach, any old port in the storm will suffice. Like the professional politician he has become, Big John saw an opportunity to sit it out in a nice comfy office at taxpayer expense. He (mistakenly) thought he was still popular among the literate, washed rabble. Hence, he ran for the open county seat left vacant by Michelle Steele’s ascension to the House of Representatives. There, he would be able to wait it out until another opportunity arose for higher office (Moorlach made an initial run for the 45th Congressional District in 2014 but wisely dropped out before spending his patrons’ hard earned money).
That was the plan.
Then came Katrina Foley and a host of other Republican opponents. Moorlach couldn’t do much about Democrat Foley (although the Lincoln Club made a sorry attempt). Not a problem in a solidly conservative district, right? The Republicans were another matter.
Instantly, Moorlach went on the offensive with the other candidates. Muldoon and Posey had come out early in the race. Moorlach made an attempt to quash both saying the Republicans needed to rally around one candidate…and that candidate should be him. Why not? It worked for him before. Only trouble is, Posey and Muldoon weren’t buying it. Well, Muldoon anyway. Posey did eventually drop out, saying on his Facebook page the Republican supermajority needed to be maintained on the BoS. Kevin Muldoon agreed with Moorlach. He just didn’t agree the proper candidate to rally behind was Moorlach.
So the stage was set and the players cards were in play. Foley kept pushing her message of transparency, something we agree is sorely lacking in the county) Muldoon, without saying it, was pushing a non-Moorlach agenda because, like most of us who are not out of touch with reality, he knew a vote for Moorlach was a vote for the same old-style (corrupt, non-transparent) county government. Muldoon also had what I would call a surprising approach to the pandemic.
Moorlach kept relying on the same old rhetoric that got him this far – You should vote for me because I have experience. I was an [innefective, beligerent to unions] OC Supervisor before. And even though I fled the county to make a run for the senate, you are lucky to have me here to take the reins and steer the county aright once again [until I can successfully run for higher office].
Moorlach, of course, lost his pants when the still unofficial results showed Foley ahead by more than 12 percent of the turnout. Turnout, by the way, was surprisingly good for a special election.
I will say in the fast paced (ho-hum) days leading up to the election, Moorlach did focus on other issues besides his enormous ego. He said he would (probably) wear a mask at meetings. He also said the state had botched the response to the covid crisis (duh) and that the governor should not be telling counties 400 miles away how to respond. So, there’s that.
In the meantime we now have, what I believe to be, the best makeup for an Orange County Board of Supervisors – slightly right with a heaping helping of left. If the conservatives left on the BoS can figure this out, they can reap a goldmine. I mean, if the board is truly non-partisan as it should be, then start working toward gaining fruitful alliances. That shouldn’t be too hard. Foley is an excellent addition to the board with an exceptional and diverse background in local politics. Costa Mesa’s loss is the county’s gain. And we will all be the better for it. And now maybe Doug Chaffee can have a friend on the dais.
And don’t worry about John Moorlach. Even as a has-been politician (did we mention his enormous ego?), he has his county public pension, that will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, to help him through his grief. Need we say more?
A few short weeks ago, I was pondering the election numbers of local races. It was interesting to see the “Blue Wave” of the midterms had more or less petered out and conservatives had moved back into some of their old haunts. All in all, not much had changed on the political landscape.
Of course, one conservative that did not fare well was State Senator John Moorlach. Moorlach was ousted by Democrat Dave Min who garnered a 12,000 vote lead in what had previously been considered a Republican stronghold.
Moorlach won a special election in 2015 to elevate from 2nd District OC Supervisor to 37th California Senate District. He won the regular election the following year and, since then, has served without distinction. Of the several bills he has authored or sponsored, most were inconsequential. Of the few that did pass most, if not all, were cosponsored by Democrats.
So, what’s an out of work, former state senator to do?
In Moorlach’s case it’s come home to roost. It just so happens 2nd District OC Supervisor, Michelle Steele, is actually going places (far, far away we hope) as she handily won the election against incumbent Harley Rouda. Steele’s departure has initiated a special election to fill her place. Hmm….
This may not be a walk in the park for Moorlach. For one thing, he has some opposition and, like him, it is mostly Republican. Newport Beach City Councilman, Kevin Muldoon and Huntington Beach Councilman, Mike Posey have both officially announced their candidacy. And, while I thought no Democrat would bother with this clearly Republican District (they hold a 5 point lead and NPPs are almost a third of the vote), one actually has.
Katrina Foley, who is the first directly elected Mayor of Costa Mesa, has wasted no time in throwing her hat in the ring. The ink was hardly dry on her certification papers when she apparently saw greener pastures in the Board of Supervisors. That alone, of course, should cause suspicion that Foley is just another wannabe career politician looking for a foothold to higher office.
Moorlach has come out strong with endorsements from the anti-taxers and the ultra conservatives. Will it be enough to win the election? “That’s my former seat. You don’t have to send a novice in,” said Moorlach recently. I’m sure there was that self-assured smirk on his face as he said it, too. But, if that self-assurance is enough, why did he feel it necessary to bully other potential candidates into dropping out?
I would like to say it would be because he is aware of his not-so-stellar record with the BoS. His constant haranguing of union officials, even calling them thugs on occasion, his refusal to shake hands with those same union officials and his near fanatical hatred of the public employee pension system did not make him a friend around the 5th floor of 333 West Santa Ana Blvd. or the public employee union headquarters just down the street.
Yes, he hated pensions….all while drawing one himself along with all the other perks of being a county supervisor. So, it turns out Moorlach only hates pensions for other public employees but thinks he deserves his own.
So, Moorlach clearly has a problem and it’s not Katrina Foley, per se. Well, in a way it is. Prior to her announcement as a candidate, Moorlach only had to fend off Muldoon and Posey. Democrats still vote. And, if they can’t vote for one of their own, they may vote for someone they think at least leans their way so they can at least feel they did their part. This being a supposedly non-partisan race, voters not seeing a candidate of their persuasion will vote for whoever has the shiniest yard sign. Moorlach might have had some of those votes. Now he won’t and he will be splitting the rest of the vote with Muldoon and Posey.
The OCGOP clearly loves Moorlach and has urged Posey and Muldoon to drop out of the race and throw their support behind Moorlach. Both have stated that they have strong support from constituents. “Right now I’m in it all the way,” Posey said in an interview with the Voice of OC. Both said they had been campaigning for months and were not going to drop out.
The good ol’ boys at the OCGOP understand the real issue. If, by some chance, Muldoon and Posey have a big enough support base, they could actually split enough votes away from Moorlach to allow Katrina Foley to win. And that would mean that, for the first time anyone can remember, there would be a second liberal vote on the Board of Supervisors.
Moorlach would like to believe he is the best candidate for the position (don’t all candidates think that?). But, is he? Yes, he is a CPA. Yes, he foretold the 1994 bankruptcy. No, he did not save the county afterwards. In fact, he was just another political lackey when the bankruptcy hit. But, it was enough to propel him to his original seat on the OC Board of Supervisors and later on to the California State Senate.
But, the county is a different animal these days, facing a different set of problems that don’t really require the expertise of a John Moorlach. Like the rest of the state and country, Orange County is trying to wade through the mess caused by the governor’s poor handling of the Covid crisis. Hard decision will have to be made and the citizens of the 2nd District may not feel he is the best candidate for the job, especially if they have several qualified candidates to choose from. There is also the fact that Moorlach lost his current Senate seat by a wide margin to a Democrat. Much of the 2nd District lies within the same territory has his senate district.
This is a special election and there are two years left on Steele’s term that Moorlach and the rest will be vying for. Whoever wins will have to run for re-election in 2022 and, because of the timing, they will also be allowed to run for another term in 2026. That’s a long time to be saddled with the smug Mr. Moorlach who also likes to surround himself with other eccentrics to help him run his office. Think long and hard before you pull the switch for him. The times they are a changing…. and, so is the county.
For most of the country, the election is finally over. Months of constant harassment and obnoxious commercial after commercial are, thankfully, over. Now, if we could just do something about those equally obnoxious Medicare supplemental insurance commercials.
Here in our town Tustin, there has been a definite shift to the left. Beckie Gomez has reclaimed a seat on the dais, joining Leticia Clark. This is still a liberal minority and not the first time we have had two female liberals on the city council (women of color is a big plus). Gomez was also part of the progressive platform on her last stint on the council. That didn’t work so well for a variety of reasons, including her apparent preference for the policies of the city elites over those of her constituents or her liberal ally. We’ll see how things pan out this time.
Ryan Gallagher (no relation) is a non-starter. A good portion of his campaign was financed by the same wonderfully dark money as his compatriots. His list of endorsements, unsurprisingly, contains a veritable who’s who of former city officials that nearly sunk this city with their clown show a few years ago. He will most certainly join the conservative Austin Lumbard and Barry Cooper to effectively block any meaningful actions by the left.
And, that’s a shame. For the first time I can remember, the city council is made up entirely of city residents who are old enough to make sound decisions while being young enough to have some innovative ideas. Their combined expertise could be put to great use to move our city forward in developing the rest of the Legacy and as it navigates the dangerous waters of…well, water. Poseidon, the developers of that nasty, desalination plant in Huntington Beach, are pushing strong for something we don’t need that will surely affect the water rates of every homeowner in Tustin. Governor Newsom, for whatever reason, is onboard; so much so, that he fired Santa Ana Water Board member, William von Blasingame, who spoke out against the project and replaced him with….Letitia Clark.
The assumption, of course, is that Clark is a proponent of the project. Most certainly, those who rallied behind von Blasingame have now had their voices squelched, even if Clark is opposed or neutral to desalination (I can’t find where Clark has made a statement, one way or the other). She could be a new voice but I doubt Newsom appointed her without checking this out. I mean, come on…California’s would-be dictator is known for appointing advocates to his various causes and policies. So, it is doubtful Clark would be neutral on the issue.
More importantly is where Clark may be headed. By all accounts she is well educated in the right fields (political science, public administration) and, with the most recent governor’s appointment, connected to the right people. Clark has four more years to work with Tustin. Her first four have obviously helped her politically, even though she has not really accomplished that much during her tenure. That could change now that she has a strong ally in Gomez.
For the first time in a long time, I am looking forward to the the first of the year and a “new” city council. There is much to accomplish and it could be done if the city council would work cooperatively, learn to compromise and -most importantly- reign in and take control of city staff.
Good luck, Councilmembers Clark, Gomez, Lumbard, Cooper & Gallagher. You will need it.
As if we didn’t have enough to concern ourselves with the pandemic, now we get to add another wildfire or two on top of that. We’re fortunate to have some of the best firefighters in the country working for us. That’s a post for another time.
If one were to look at the current state of elections in Tustin, one might think we are having a crisis in leadership. I mean, we have 9 candidates vying for 3 council seats with one incumbent running for re-election. It seems to be a trend, though. Westminster has five candidates running for two seats. Westminster is rife with allegations of corruption and back office deals. So, it’s no wonder they have plenty of candidates to seek office.
Like us, the city of Garden Grove has 9 candidates running for 3 council seats and the mayor’s office. Five of the candidates are running for mayor. Garden Grove has little in the way of corruption but has a huge agenda this coming term, contending with issues like the sale of the Willowick Golf Course (which is curiously located in Santa Ana) and the possible economic collapse of the Habor Blvd. corridor.
Besides the number of candidates running, Tustin also shares another commonality with Garden Grove. There is a lot of campaign money, both light and dark, backing the candidates. And that money is one thing that should alert folks to who they should vote for.
I know a good number of readers have already voted. I haven’t been in a hurry to post this I mean, we have less than a week to go before the official “election day”. And, quite frankly, it’s not my job to tell you how to vote. I just want every eligible person in Tustin to actually vote. For those who haven’t voted yet, I have a few things for you to ponder in case you are having trouble making up your mind. I mean with 9 candidates, which I don’t recall us ever having for a single election, a person needs to cut the field down. Now mind you this is my own way of thinking, your mileage may vary.
If there was anyone to cut immediately, it would be Kurt Bensinger and James Peres. The allegations of mismanagement of campaign funds by the FPPC is a good start. Our good friends over at the Liberal OC had quite a bit to say about the letter sent to the DPOC concerning the issue. Bensworth and Peres have denied any wrongdoing (of course) and blamed their campaign finance manager. Their campaign statements and ensuing multiple amendments make it difficult to see exactly what and from where they received contributions. What a hoot. C’mon guys, the buck stops here. You are ultimately responsible for every dollar (or contribution in kind) your campaign take in. If a person can’t manage their own finances, why would one let them manage the city?
Then there is our retread and what looks to be career politician in the making, Beckie Gomez. If the name sounds familiar it’s because she already spent two terms doing virtually nothing on the Tustin City Council except agreeing with the conservative good ol’ boys on almost every issue that came up. She was supposed to be the liberal voice speaking out for the little guy…uh person while the Three Amigos pushed through their agenda of business over community.
What’s worse is, to keep her name politically alive, Gomez got elected to the OC Board of Education to wait out the term limits thing. And now she is back for round two. Her qualifications make her much better suited to her current job. If she returns to the council dais, we can just expect more what we had. Some of what we can expect is, she will be beholden to the county firefighters association, Tustin Police Officers Association and assorted trade unions, all of whom have contributed heavily to her campaign, directly or through PACs.
Speaking of career politicians, there is current city council person and second term candidate, Leticia Clark. Reading the leading line on her campaign website one would think she has been the shining star of the city council. In reality, she hasn’t made any waves and, from the looks of things, we could expect the same from her in the future. There is this: she is probably one of the most educated persons we have ever had on the city council. Maybe if the people of Tustin were to elect a little more of a moderate crowd to the dais, she could better accomplish what she aims for…. I mean, her platform sounds good but she has had four years to work on it and what has she accomplished?
That leaves five other candidates. Of those, we have one candidate who is far and above the rest in campaign donations with an astounding $128,000 in the campaign chest. Actually, it is much more than that because I didn’t include the last minute reports of donations for Lee Fink.
I had a brief social media conversation with Lee concerning the fact that most of his donors seem to be lawyers. Logically, of course, lawyers are going to back lawyers. He has some pretty hefty donors in there that upped his funding but at least we didn’t see any businesses that do business with the city. That’s a big plus in my book. My only concern is the amount of campaign funding (and expenditures) he received. Fink is probably a record holder for the recipient of funds for a small city council campaign. That leads me to wonder if he is just another career politician in the making (move over, Beckie).
Lee is also a homegrown politician, so there’s that.
Another big recipient of campaign funding is Jorge Valdes. Valdes is another lawyer who received a considerable amount of the $90,000 or so he has reported from his peers. However, the red flag goes up when I see the typical contributions from the OC Biz PAC, a purveyor of dark money, and the sizeable number of auto dealers from the Tustin Auto Center who have contributed. Valdes has also received large contributions from the OC GOP, Lincoln Club and -what could only be assumed a dark money outlet- the “Taxpayers for a Sustainable Economy” (I haven’t checked them out yet but I will). Beholden to business or responsible to the community? You have to make that decision.
One person stands out from the crowd. Chris Cusac is a veteran and a local businessman. He appears to be running a largely self-funded campaign and has relied heavily on non-monetary contributions. He owes allegiance to no business or union. And he seems to be the only one who thinks we need a guiding hand and not significant change. From his website: “Cris is running to make sure our community remains as amazing as it currently is.” Chris has the kind of credentials I like to see in local candidates. Tustin Community Foundation, Veterans Advisory Committee, Chief’s Advisory Board, etc. Although he has only been here 6 years, he has made the most of it and I would think he would put a lot of thought into decisions that have to be made in the coming months.
So there you go. I’m not telling you who I voted for (I voted today) and I won’t tell you who to vote for. At least you have a little more information on some of the candidates (some weren’t worth mentioning). Pick wisely. You’ll have to live with them for the next four years. Oh yeah, there is one other thing: For more than 25 years, our city council has been primarily conservative (bad form to say R & D words in a non-partisan race). Maybe we ought to try a slight shift to the left. Consider it anyway. The fate of the city is in your hands.