MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Feet to the Fire — May 1, 2014

The Daily Pilot and the Voice of OC recently covered the "Feet to the Fire" OC Supervisor candidates forum and their accounts are provided below.

As a bonus, I’m providing my Voter’s Guide for statewide races. I’ll try to complete the series in the next few days for the Federal and Countywide races.

BONUS: With every election cycle, I receive a number of telephone calls and e-mails asking me how I would vote in the upcoming election. Therefore, I am providing my suggestions on statewide races below.

My voter’s guide is rather simple to understand. As a life-long Republican and a former member of the Orange County and California Republican Central Committees, I am only permitted to endorse or recommend Republicans. However, I will note where there may be a deviation, as it is better to have a good Independent than a bad Republican.

If I have definitely endorsed a particular candidate, then that candidate’s name will be in bold. If there are two or more qualified candidates and one would be a good second choice, those candidate’s names will be in italics. If I have no position or am very neutral, then the candidates will be in normal print. Names will be provided in alphabetical order. Where applicable, I will provide a brief analysis.

GOVERNOR

Richard William Aguirre

Andrew Blount

Glenn Champ

Tim Donnelly

Dennis Jackson

Neel Kashkari

Alma Marie Winston

For a fun Wikipedia review of the candidates who declared, declined and withdrew, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_gubernatorial_election,_2014. I am a footnote in California gubernatorial history! And I am a student of this election cycle. It does not look good for my Party.

I have met with and conversed with Tim Donnelly on a number of occasions. If you want a very conservative candidate, then he deserves your vote. If you want someone more moderate, then Neel Kashkari is available.

If you wanted someone in between, from the OC, and has a great sense of fun, then Andrew Blount should have been considered. Unfortunately, Andrew Blount just withdrew from the race due to health reasons.

The bottom line is this: Jerry Brown will be re-elected in November. This is a blue state (voter registration strongly favors Democrat candidates). His polling is very high. And, incumbents win 90 percent of the time. No wonder we’re not seeing another independently wealthy Republican candidate in the hunt.

The good news is that key Democrats refer to Jerry Brown as the “Republican” candidate. He has been the adult in the room and has prevented the Legislature from drifting too far to the left. He is strong enough to herd the elected Democrats in the Capitol. He provided some pension reform, he is proposing debt reduction and a rainy day fund.

Jerry and I are on a first-name basis, as he works with both sides of the aisle (I cannot say that for his predecessor). However, we should not forget that Jerry Brown absconded with $73 million per year from OC taxpayers to balance the state’s budget. Consequently, he has even robbed tax dollars from his Democratic brethren here in Orange County.

In June, vote for the Republican that is the highest in the polls. Currently, that candidate is Tim Donnelly. It is critical that a Republican is the second highest vote getter, as the top-two go on to the General election in the fall. In November, vote for that Republican. It is critical to send a protest vote, as limited as I may believe it will be. After all, Mitt Romney and Chris Christie were elected to the position of Governor in very blue states. As they say, hope springs eternal.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Ron Nehring

David Fennell

George Yang

Ron Nehring did an admirable job as Chairman of the California Republican Party. He is well spoken, enthusiastic, and a grassroots leader who is well acquainted with the state and its politics.

SECRETARY OF STATE

Roy Allmond

Pete Peterson

Dan Schnur (No Party Preference)

I have not met Pete Peterson, but I hear positive things about him. I have known Dan Schnur for some time. He recently changed his registration from Republican. The last time we were together, Dan was preaching a “can’t we all get along” message.

CONTROLLER

Tammy D. Blair

David Evans

Ashley Swearengin

TREASURER

Greg Conlon

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Ronald Gold

John Haggerty

David King

Phil Wyman

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER

Ted Gaines

SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION

Lydia Guiterrez

STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION – THIRD DISTRICT

Lewis Da Silva

Diane Harkey

Shirley Horton

John F. Kelly

Van Tran

I have worked with Assemblymembers Diane Harkey and Van Tran over the years of my tenure. Van Tran brings a law degree to the position and Diane Harkey is still enduring recession-related negative legal and media attention from her family business affairs. John F. Kelly, a Tustin resident and former City Council member, is on a mission with his candidacy based on a single issue impacting his business. John Kelly would add some humor to the Board, but this is a very serious position.

Supervisorial candidates spar at Feet to the Fire forum

They talk pensions and disagree over who best knows the county, issues.

By Jill Cowan

Candidates for the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ 2nd District seat sparred over pensions, problem-solving and their community ties Monday night in a debate that took on something of a wonkish tone.

The four are vying to replace Supervisor John Moorlach, who will be termed out next year.

About 160 community members gathered at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center for the seventh Feet to the Fire forum, where candidates for local or regional office meet with a panel of journalists in an informal TV talk show-style discussion.

Moderator and columnist Barbara Venezia, sporting her signature scarlet leather vest and pants ensemble decorated with yellow flames, prodded the debate along at a steady clip.

But it was the first question of the night that may have set its course.

If elected, Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis asked, "Would you be willing to forego your pension?"

Supervisors can opt out of taking a public employee pension — a symbolic move, given the tense climate surrounding the board’s contract negotiations with county employee unions.

Candidate Michelle Steel, a Republican state Board of Equalization member who leads the pack in fundraising by a wide margin, answered in one word: "Yes."

Republican Huntington Beach Councilman and former mayor Joe Carchio, likewise, said yes without hesitation, adding that he hasn’t taken a pension in his city role and wouldn’t start now.

Jim Moreno, a Democratic Coast Community College District trustee who worked as a deputy to a Los Angeles County supervisor for years, said he would accept the pension but use it to provide grants to nonprofits.

"I would accumulate that and put it back into the community," he said.

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) said that he would "probably" take the pension.

"I don’t have a home in (Rancho) Palos Verdes and Orange County," he said, apparently jabbing at Steel. "I’m not independently wealthy."

Mansoor specified that he would take "the lesser" pension. However, in June 2012, voters approved a measure that requires all supervisors elected from that point forward to take the smallest pension available, if they decide to take one at all.

From there, the candidates launched into a discussion about unfunded pension liabilities and government waste.

All four agreed that government tends to overspend and that with careful analysis, those sources of waste could be uncovered.

County Supervisor Candidates Short on Specifics at ‘Feet to Fire’ Forum

By NICK GERDA

Candidates for a coastal county supervisor’s district were short on details Monday on what exactly they would do if elected.

At a "Feet to the Fire" forum in Costa Mesa, contenders for the 2nd District were peppered with questions from local journalists about how they would lead a county government for 3.1 million people.

But when it came to some of the more pressing regional issues facing county supervisors — such as a troubled county health plan for 510,000 people, a county fire authority in turmoil and a transportation agency faced with ever growing traffic congestion — candidates had trouble detailing their plans.

Voice of OC Editor-in-Chief Norberto Santana Jr. noted the development era of county government has largely wound down, meaning supervisors now serve as leaders for other regional policy issues.

He asked how candidates see their role as a county supervisor.

In response, Coast Community College District trustee Jim Moreno simply recited the county’s role as an “arm of the state” in charge of local health, welfare and public safety issues.

Santana sought specifics.

“How are you going to approach that?” he asked.

“There’s a lot of things. Public health, and health, is one of the big deals, and a lot of people don’t understand that,” said Moreno. “As a supervisor you have got to put the experts in place to take care of these various roles.”

Santana again pointed out a lack of specifics.

Candidate and state Board of Equalization member Michelle Steel was questioned about her endorsement of Assemblywoman Diane Harkey for Steel’s seat on the tax board.

Harkey’s husband was recently found by a jury to have violated his duty to investors and engaged in elder abuse and was ordered to pay $10 million in damages.

“What do you say … to people who have lost their life savings in that scandal, that you now support her for your job, which is basically taking care of taxpayer money?” asked Orange County Register and Daily Pilot columnist Barbara Venezia.

Steel replied that the court ruled that Diane Harkey wasn’t involved in her husband’s investment firm.

“I’m proud that I endorsed her,” Steel said.

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor was questioned about his claims that he will lead by example on pension reform while also planning to have the county contribute toward his pension if he becomes a supervisor.

“If you want to lead by example, can’t you just turn down the pension then?” asked Register columnist Jack Wu.

“I’m not independently wealthy, Jack,” Mansoor replied.

Mansoor had trouble explaining why he’s looking to leave his two-year Assembly post during his first term.

“You’re not telling me why you’re jumping ship,” Venezia said.

Mansoor replied that he had supported former Huntington Beach Mayor Don Hansen for the supervisor post and that Hansen later dropped out of the race.

Wu pressed further on why he started looking at the supervisors’ seat less than four months after winning his Assembly seat.

“I want someone who knows the issues,” Mansoor replied.

Huntington Beach Councilman Joe Carchio, who describes himself as a fiscal conservative, was quizzed on his support for bringing back taxpayer-funded redevelopment programs.

“Do you think that’s consistent with Republican principles”, asked Santana.

“It’s not Republican money, and it’s not Democratic money,” said Carchio, adding there’s too much focus on party affiliation.

On the issue of pensions, Venezia noted that all of the candidates’ websites (other than Carchio, who doesn’t have one) state they support pension reform but don’t explain how that would work.

“On none of them did it say what exactly you would do to reform” pensions, Venezia said.

Mansoor didn’t have a pension reform plan but said he opposed pay raises for sheriff deputies, who now are being asked to pay their full pension share.

Carchio called for a policy — having all employees pay their full share of retirement contributions — that’s expected to largely already be in place by the time he would take office.

Steel, meanwhile, declined to say how much of a raise she would give sheriff’s deputies to offset their extra pension payments, a hot issue now in negotiations.

“I don’t know what the raise [would be] at this point,” said Steel.

Steel estimated she’s raised about $550,000 so far for her campaign, giving her a huge funding advantage over the other candidates.

Without personal loans, Carchio said he’s raised about $75,000, with Mansoor citing $100,000 and Moreno about $40,000.

The 2nd Supervisorial District covers Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Stanton, Seal Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos and portions of Cypress and Buena Park. It’s currently represented by termed-out Supervisor John Moorlach, who has endorsed Mansoor.

Monday’s event was part of a four-part series of "Feet to the Fire" forums aimed at getting human moments out of political candidates in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.

A forum earlier this month featured plenty of feisty moments by contenders for the 74th Assembly District.

Two more events are scheduled for later in the election season.

On Sept. 18, panelists will interview candidates running for the Costa Mesa City Council, and on Oct. 1, candidates for Newport Beach City Council come under the microscope.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

Disclaimer: As I am not permitted to send campaign-related clippings from my County account, I am doing so from my personal/campaign account.