MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Democrat Entrant — February 23, 2014

Monday’s weekly column by Martin Wisckol of the OC Register provides the news that the 45th Congressional District may have a Democratic candidate. The surprise is not a Democrat jumping in, it’s from where. The race would be more interesting if this new candidate were a local Orange Countian of stature (Poway is in northern San Diego County). Therefore, the plot thickens, and the race for the top-two is now more critical.

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O.C. ‘birther’ Taitz may be back on statewide ballot

Orly Taitz has declared her intent to challenge Attorney General Kamala Harris.


Laguna Niguel attorney and dentist Orly Taitz began attracting national headlines in 2009 for her lawsuits alleging that Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya and ineligible to be president. Her lawsuits have continued – beside the "birther" suits, she also alleges the president is using a fraudulent Social Security number – but the headlines have evaporated.

Except when she runs for office, and it’s that time again.

On Feb. 12, Taitz filed papers with the secretary of state declaring her intent to challenge California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

It marks the third consecutive election cycle she’s run for statewide office. In the 2010 Republican primary, she ran for secretary of state against Damon Dunn, a former NFL player who had never participated in an election as a voter until 2009. Nonetheless, he received 74 percent of the primary vote before getting demolished in the general election.

Taitz claimed Dunn was ineligible to run and a backer filed suit to that effect, but was unsuccessful.

In the 2012 GOP primary, Taitz ran for the opportunity to challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-San Francisco. She won 3 percent of the vote in a field of 14 mostly unknown Republicans – good enough for fourth place.

Taitz outlines a bold agenda on her website,, that goes well beyond the legal jurisdiction of the attorney general, including nullifying certain EPA mandates and international trade treaties as they apply to California.

Taitz, who was born in Moldova in the then-Soviet Union, faces a top-two open primary if she completes her paperwork by March 7 and qualifies to run. That means she’ll be vying with all comers, regardless of party affiliation. The top-two vote getters advance to November.

So far, five potential candidates have declared their intent to run. Just one, Democratic incumbent and odds-on favorite Harris, has opened a campaign account – and has a healthy $3.1 million parked there.

A Democrat emerges

The hill probably isn’t as steep for Drew Leavens as for Taitz, but it’s quite an incline nonetheless.

Leavens says he’ll be running for the 45th Congressional District, which is being vacated by retiring Rep. John Campbell, R-Irvine. That would give Democrats an entry in the race that at this point is being contested by three Republicans: State Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel; county Supervisor John Moorlach; and retired Marine Col. Greg Raths.

The district is 44 percent Republican, 28 percent Democrat and 24 percent with no party preference. By simply matching party registration with his share of the primary vote, he would outpace Taitz’s past performance – but it might not be enough to advance to the November election.

Leavens runs a business that gives training in sexual offender assessment, campus violence prevention, and threat assessment in the workplace, among other subjects.

He has never run for office before, lives in Poway, and decided to run for the 45th CD only after losing the Democratic Party endorsement for the 49th CD – held by Darrell Issa, R-Vista – to Encinitas tech consultant Dave Peiser.

On the other hand, Raths is the only one who lives in the district now and Leavens said he’ll be moving there. And Leavens thinks he can have crossover appeal, pitching himself as a fiscal conservative who backs gay marriage, abortion rights and marijuana legalization.

“I don’t think most Republicans represent the local community,” Leavens said. “They represent the NRA and corporations. I want to give the people a voice.”