MOORLACH UPDATE — Feet to the Fire — October 11, 2013

Campaign season has official and unofficial start dates. A candidate can start gathering signatures as soon as December 27th as a substitute for paying the required filing fee. The date when the Registrar of Voters (ROV) will start taking declarations from potential candidates is February 5th of next year. This is also referred to as the opening of the filing season. Both of these activities are referred to as candidates having pulled papers. These nomination papers and forms must be submitted to the ROV no later than March 7th. Those who wish to move forward are said to have filed their papers. Therefore, the actual listing of bona fide candidates on the upcoming ballot will be available the evening of March 7th and the real race is off and running. The Primary election is held on June 3rd, a brief three months of campaigning activity. In a county supervisorial race (nonpartisan), the candidate receiving 50 percent, plus one, of the votes cast in the June Primary, wins. If there happens to be only one candidate, that person is listed on the ballot, but will be the ultimate winning candidate (as write-in efforts rarely succeed). If there are multiple candidates and none win outright in June, the top two vote getters will face off in the General election on November 4th. Races for state and Federal offices are a little different. The top two vote getters in the Primary will face each other again in the General election.

Before the campaign actually begins in the spring, potential candidates try to size up their situations and make decisions accordingly. Therefore, this period of time allows for plenty of speculation by pundits and reporters. There have been candidates that surfaced out of nowhere on the last day to file. This industry is that fluid. I’ll try to keep articles of this nature to a minimum (I did not forward the column referred to below), as this period can be unpredictable. But, when campaign season officially opens (when it’s feet to the fire), it is my policy to embargo campaign-related articles where I am mentioned and provide them after the votes have been cast.

OC Register columnist Barbara Venezia provides a conversation with one of the potential suitors for my position (there are at least four possible candidates that have been identified to date) below.

It seems Mansoor’s all but officially running for Moorlach’s seat



I’m always happy to chat with folks who disagree with my opinions here and give them their say.

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor called this week. He’d read my column talking about plans to produce four Feet to the Fire forums in 2014.

One will focus on candidates running for the seat Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach will be vacating. Mansoor could be one of those candidates.

In our phone conversation this week, he told me he hasn’t made a firm decision on whether or not he’ll run. But he did want to talk about some comments I made about him in my Sept. 26 column.

My opinion there was that if Mansoor doesn’t finish out his current term, those who supported him in 2012 for Assembly will be disappointed and might not vote for him for supervisor. He could find himself out a job and out of a political career.

Mansoor disagrees with me.

He said he’s been talking to constituents and political advisers in the district and he’s hearing quite the opposite.

Mansoor said folks are encouraging him to run for supervisor because they want someone with long-time ties to the district in that seat.

When I pressed him to give me some names I might recognize of those urging him to run, he said he wasn’t ready to do that.

But he certainly does have long-time ties in the community.

Mansoor pointed out he’s lived in Costa Mesa practically his whole life, worked for the Sheriff’s office for 16 years, and was a Costa Mesa City Council member for eight years.

He also was a member of the Orange County Transportation Authority for four years, and he’s now an Assemblyman for the 74th District, which covers areas in Costa Mesa, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Laguna Woods.

Mansoor said for him, it’s about knowing the issues, needs, wants and concerns of each community in the district, and how decisions will affect those who live there.

He believes he’s represented his Assembly district well.

When I questioned him about why he would want to jump ship from Assembly to supervisor, he told me he didn’t feel there was just one path or direction where he could effectively serve his community best.

“It’s an honor to serve in the Assembly and I’ve learned a lot about how our state is run,” he said.

Mansoor said this knowledge and experience will go a long way for him in serving as a county supervisor.

During his time in the Assembly he said he’s most proud of his work with child care and foster groups.

“That’s why next year I’ll be continuing this effort by sponsoring a package of bills to reform California’s foster care system,” he said.

What does he say to critics who might say he’s political position hopping?

“I got into this out of concern for my community and I’ve never believed I had to go to higher office – though I wouldn’t rule it out,” he said.

But what if he decides to go for supervisor and doesn’t win. He’d be out of a job and now he’s a married man.

Has he thought that far ahead in this process?

“I’ve never done this just for a job. I have a passion for serving the community,” he said.

How much money does he plan on raising if he runs for supervisor?

He wouldn’t say.

“Every race I’ve run I’ve been outspent, and I don’t think how much someone raises is important to voters,” he said. “I am probably not going to raise as much money as some, but at the end of the day it will be up to the voters.”

Will Moorlach endorse him?

Mansoor said he’s talked to Moorlach about running for his seat, but wouldn’t elaborate.

He admitted it’s been frustrating being a minority Republican trying to push for pension reform in a Democratic-dominated Assembly.

But he feels the pension issue is also important to Orange County.

He told me if he were to become a county supervisor, he’d focus on pensions, the county’s roads and infrastructure, safety, emergency preparedness and fiscal security.

For someone who hasn’t decided to run for county supervisor, seems like he’s already working on a platform of issues to present to voters.

As we closed the conversation Mansoor assured me should he run, I could count on him to participate in the Feet to the Fire forum for this race.

At least I got him to commit to one thing!


October 10


The OC Weekly had its “Best of OC” edition and I snuck in at the top of the “OC Life” section with “Best Political Coup – John Moorlach and the Appointment of Sandra Hutchens.”

Remember how the U.S. Olympic hockey team emerged from certain defeat and beat the Russians in 1980? Well, almost as exciting was this year’s Hall of Administration miracle pulled off by John Moorlach, the Christian, conservative chairman of Orange County’s Board of Supervisors. Less than 24 hours before the June 3 board vote to name a replacement for indicted ex-Sheriff Mike Carona, Moorlach was down 4-1, with the majority favoring Paul Walters. By conventional wisdom, the veteran Santa Ana police chief had solid votes from Supervisors Bill Campbell and Chris Norby and needed only one additional vote from either of the two other supervisors—both of whom had expressed admiration for him. During weeks of discussion about the selection, a visibly annoyed Norby repeatedly pressed Moorlach for an early vote, confident that his choice had the three necessary votes. All that seemed left was for a tailor to fit Walters for his new uniform at the almost $800 million-per year department. But Moorlach helped stall the process for several weeks and . . . something . . . nobody’s been able to decipher it completely . . . happened that left Campbell, Norby and Walters nearly gasping for air. When the board voted, Moorlach led a stunning 3-2 majority, with Supervisors Janet Nguyen and Pat Bates. The trio gave the county’s most powerful job to underdog candidate Sandra Hutchens, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s chief.

October 11


Jean O. Pasco of the LA Times in a “Campaign Journal” column, provided an observation on my campaign-related efforts for the November General Elections in “He’s a Disputed Party in a Partisan Mailing.” In election cycles, I am asked by friends for assistance on how to vote on ballot measures and who to vote for concerning the various available elected positions. My screen is very simple, where being a member of the Republican Central Committee means that you are prohibited from endorsing candidates of other parties if they are running against Republicans. Consequently, I usually recommend those Republicans that I am comfortable with. In recent years, my voter’s guide has been posted on a website. In this particular election cycle, I actually sent a mailer to those on my mail list. One individual got a little tweaked and it generated this fun hub-bub.

County Treasurer-Tax Collector John M.W. Moorlach was reelected in June to his second term in the nonpartisan post. But there’s nothing nonpartisan about his recent Moorlach Newsletter.

The front of the mailer, prepared by Moorlach’s campaign, invited readers to a fund-raiser for Republican Secretary of State Bill Jones. Inside is a 1998 voter guide with Moorlach’s endorsements–all of GOP candidates–in partisan races and his Republican picks for nonpartisan offices, such as schools and water boards.

The heavy partisan push isn’t surprising, given Moorlach’s other post as an elected member of the Orange County Republican Central Committee. The newsletter says that the first priority for choosing candidates is "loyalty to the Republican Party."

Still, the newsletter infuriated community activist Tom Logan of Huntington Beach. He questioned whether Moorlach should be using his nonpartisan position for partisan purposes.

Even though the mailer was paid for by the campaign, it lists Moorlach’s county phone and fax numbers and could be misread by some as an official county document, Logan said.

Moorlach said being Republican is "one of the things of who I am." He said he sent the newsletter and endorsements to encourage voter participation among his campaign supporters.

"If you’re a Democrat, cross out the Republican names," he said. "I want to get people involved in the process, and they don’t have to agree with what I’ve written down."

Gary Huckaby, spokesman for the state Fair Political Practices Commission, said there is no specific prohibition against candidates listing their public work numbers on campaign materials. However, public resources cannot be used for campaign activities.

Shirley Grindle, author of the county’s campaign-reform law, said Moorlach showed poor judgment by issuing partisan endorsements.

"He’s answerable to the entire public and here he is playing footsie with one side," she said.

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