MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Victory at 50.3 — March 19, 2015

At 5:00 p.m. today, the Orange County Registrar of Voters counted the final 3,486 ballots. The final count shows me at 50.3 percent! I am claiming victory at 50.3!

I can now focus on getting sworn in and starting my civic duty as a California State Senator!

Since a roundtrip ticket to Sacramento is $500 per person out of John Wayne Airport, I thought it would be more special to hold my swearing in ceremony here in the 37th District. It will be on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Village of Hope’s Chapel at 1 Hope Drive in Tustin. You are officially invited. Please come.

I’ll try to send out a separate invitation in an e-mail and through our social media accounts. And I will remind you in my UPDATES through Sunday morning.

The OC Register provides the details of yesterday evening’s count in the first piece below. It also includes a quote from yesterday’s UPDATE! It is followed by the LA Times and the Orange County Breeze, which made a bold and accurate prediction six weeks ago (see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Next Move — February 2, 2015). The fourth and final piece is from the Associated Press, which was published around the nation.

OC Register Logo

John Moorlach closes in on state Senate win


John Moorlach has begun packing for the job of Orange County’s newest member of the state Senate. A runoff is still mathematically possible, though, and opponent Don Wagner is holding out hope that uncounted ballots will swing dramatically in his favor.

Moorlach, a former county supervisor, needs a majority of all votes to avoid a runoff between the top two candidates. At the end of Tuesday’s election-night tallies, he stood at 50.4 percent. The 4,491 paper ballots counted Wednesday brought that total down just slightly, to 50.3 percent, with fellow Republican Wagner remaining at 44.1 percent.

There are 3,424 uncounted ballots in the elections office, with a few hundred more mail ballots expected to be delivered with Election Day postmarks. Moorlach needs about 44 percent of the remaining ballots to avoid a runoff.

Final results are expected by Friday.

“We think it’s getting difficult for us to fall below 50 percent,” Moorlach said Wednesday evening. “I’m operating as if I’ve won and I’m getting packed to go.”

However, he’s stopping short of flying to Sacramento on Thursday to be sworn in, despite an invitation from Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff.

“I wanted to wait for everything to settle,” said Moorlach, who is seeking to fill the seat vacated after Mimi Walters was elected to Congress in November. The Senate district extends from Anaheim Hills to Newport Beach.

Wagner, a Republican assemblyman, isn’t giving up yet.

“Anything can happen so we remain optimistic,” said Wagner consultant Jason Cabel Roe.

Late Tuesday night, a fair bit of celebrating by Moorlach and his supporters erupted when the day’s final results were posted, showing him over 50 percent for the first time.

“Everyone was screaming and had their hands stretched out to the ceiling with joy,” he recounted in a Wednesday email to supporters. “You would have thought someone scored a goal in the last few minutes of a World Cup soccer championship game. It was glorious. And it was an answer to many prayers.”

A win would mean Moorlach, 59, will continue a run in public office that began in 1995 when he was appointed county treasurer. He first garnered public attention the prior year when he warned of the likelihood of a county bankruptcy. His predictions were largely disregarded until bankruptcy was imminent.

Moorlach was subsequently elected and reelected treasurer and then elected to the county Board of Supervisors, where he served until being termed-out last year. The Dutch-born Costa Mesa resident’s tenure as supervisor is perhaps most notable for efforts to rein in public employee unions, particularly when it comes to pension expenses.

Moorlach’s campaign raised a relatively modest $185,000 to Wagner’s $494,000 through Election Day. He was buoyed from the outset by being better known in the district. And his campaign is reminiscent of a win by another financial underdog.

In November, Huntington Beach Councilman Matthew Harper upset Newport Beach Councilman Keith Curry in a race for Assembly, despite being outspent $181,000 to $566,000. Both Moorlach and Harper are known for their idealism, which sometimes takes precedence over pragmatism. Both faced vicious attacks from their opponents.

Harper thinks the hit pieces backfired in both cases.

“Voters don’t like negative campaigns that go over the top,” said Harper, who has praised both Moorlach and Wagner. “Money doesn’t always win, especially when you have voters who read the paper, go online, study the ballot statements.”


Former O.C. Supervisor John Moorlach holds lead in state Senate race

Supervisor John Moorlach

Supervisor John Moorlach
Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach leads the vote count for a state Senate seat.

By Patrick McGreevy

A day after a special election for a state Senate seat, Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach held a slight majority of the vote on Wednesday, but 3,400 ballots remain to be counted before he will know whether he won outright or will face a May runoff.

Moorlach, a Republican from Costa Mesa, had 50.3% of the vote the day after Tuesday’s election, which, if it holds, would win him the 37th Senate District seat and avoid a May 19 runoff with Republican Assemblyman Donald Wagner of Irvine. Wagner had received 44.1% of the vote.

Republican Naz Namazi was placed third and write-in candidate Louise Stewardson, a Democrat, finished last with 2% of the vote.

Moorlach was better known in the district than his opponents, and negative ads attacking him from law enforcement groups might actually have helped him gain sympathy, according to Allan Hoffenblum, a former Republican strategist who publishes a nonpartisan election guide.

“I think the strong union, independent expenditures might have backfired,” Hoffenblum said.

Moorlach, who also served as county treasurer to help Orange County recover from bankruptcy, said he has accomplished more than Wagner. “I’m not a glad-hander. I’ve been working hard and the voters knew it,” he said, adding that the attack mail was a “major turnoff” to voters.

Orange County Breeze

Moorlach takes initial lead in special election to fill empty State Senate seat

La Palma Days Parade, District 2 Supervisor John Moorlach

File photo by C.E.H. Wiedel at a prior year’s La Palma Days Parade, of District 2 County Supervisor John Moorlach waving to parade onlookers.

According to results released by the Orange County Registrar of Voters, as of about 10:30 a.m. this morning, John Moorlach leads Donald Wagner by 4221 votes in the special election held yesterday to fill the 37th District State Senate seat vacated by Mimi Walters after her successful Congressional campaign.

According to that tally, Moorlach received 34,208 votes (50.4%) and Donald Wagner received 29,987 votes (44.1%).

Naz Namazi received 2,359 votes (3.5%) and Louise Sewardson 1,368 votes (2.0%).

Of the total of 491,852 registered voters, only 69,071 (14%) cast any sort of ballot. Most (59,568) voted by mail, the remainder by precinct.

Once the count is certified, it would appear that Mr. Moorlach is going to Sacramento.

Cover art

Glazer, Bonilla appear headed to runoff for Senate seat

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – John Moorlach has maintained his majority-vote lead over fellow Republican Don Wagner in a special election for state Senate as more ballots are counted in Orange County.

Moorlach had 50.3 percent of the vote Wednesday after officials reported the results of nearly 4,500 additional ballots. Moorlach would avoid a runoff and win the 37th state Senate District seat outright if he clears the 50 percent threshold.

Wagner, a state assemblyman, had 44.1 percent despite a major fundraising advantage.

There are at least 2,200 mail-in ballots and provisional votes left to count in Orange County.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, Democrats Steve Glazer and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla appeared headed to a May runoff in a divisive state Senate contest that saw special interest groups pour in more than $2.1 million.

This e-mail was sent by the successful Moorlach for Senate campaign.