MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Authenticity — February 19, 2016

I’ve just returned from the Orange County Registrar of Voters and it is obvious that election season is upon us. The campaign filing period has opened. Every candidate needs a number of signatures from registered voters within the District. I’m hoping to obtain the necessary amount next Thursday evening at our signature gathering event. You are invited to attend. It will be at the brand new Lighthouse Bayview Cafe on the Newport Peninsula, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The details are below.

Scott Baugh has been a shining star here in Orange County for more than two decades. He has my endorsement to be the next Congressman for the 48th Congressional District, an area that overlaps my 37th Senatorial District. Barbara Venezia provides the details in her Daily Pilot column below.

The second piece is an editorial submission by my political consultant for my 2006 Supervisorial and 2015 Senatorial campaigns, and now my Capitol Chief of Staff, that was published in yesterday’s OC Register. It also deals with the current campaign season and how it is impacting those running for U.S. President. The piece provides some insights on how their campaigns are going on the national stage and it concludes with some recent California campaign anecdotal stories, including one of our many strategy efforts from last year’s special election.

The filing period closes on March 11th. Then the campaign is officially on until June 7th. If you do not vote with an absentee ballot, then mark June 7th on your calendar to show up at the polls and participate in the fun.

Baugh will only run if Rohrabacher steps aside

Is former OC Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh really going to run for Congress?

It all hinges on one thing: If his longtime friend Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), doesn’t seek reelection this year.

And that’s a big if.

Rohrabacher recently stated that should a Republican president be elected, he could get a "top-level appointment."

The sounds presumptuous and is probably not really fair to his buddy Baugh.

Regardless, Baugh filed a statement of candidacy last month to start to fundraising. He’d need to pull papers by March 11 to run this year.

As you can imagine, Baugh and I had a lively conversation about this.

He says Rohrabacher’s made it clear to him that he’s "looking for a departure in 2016 or 2018."

Baugh holds firm in his longtime belief that incumbents holding to party principles shouldn’t be challenged by fellow Republicans.

So it’s no surprise he feels the way he does about the race between Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine) and incumbent state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa).

"Assemblyman Wagner should not challenge Sen. Moorlach," Baugh says. "Both are great men, but Moorlach has proven to be a strong voice for conservative values that is heard around the state."

Advancing the conservative agenda is important to Baugh.

"As a conservative, success is just not defined by that position," he explained. "Success is staking out a conservative position and getting others to join in that position."

The conversation then turned to the skill set he’d bring to Congress, given the opportunity.

Baugh, who served in the state Assembly from 1995 to 2000, called his proven ability to work with those on both sides of the political aisle an asset.

The "Republic is slipping into a divide," and that’s one of the reasons he’s considered running.

"I feel a duty to do something about it and feel our best days are still ahead of us," he said.

So what issues would be important to a Congressional campaign?

"Domestically, there’s a ton of work to do with entitlements, streamlining tax policies, the failed Obama Care, Isis threats and massive expansion in government," he said.

He said we’re a "country being choked to death in a mountain of regulations" and that the "proliferation of regulations (is) choking our freedoms".

Immigration is also something he feels strongly about, saying "it’s how we frame the issue."

"People get caught up in the rhetoric: Do we have a citizenship problem in this country? I say, no," he said.

Creating a pathway to citizenship without documentation is not the solution, in his view, since the country has a legal pathway to citizenship that works.

The equitable way to solve the undocumented worker issue is to implement foolproof employer verification and work permit programs — and to secure the borders.

"If you have chaos at the border, you have de facto amnesty, which isn’t good for anybody," he said.

Baugh and I have had many lively conversations over the years, as I’ve covered the local political scene.

He’s never shied from my uncomfortable questions or backed down on how he views issues.

We’ve agreed to disagree many times.

And while some politicos I’ve verbally sparred with haven’t been welcoming when we’ve been thrown together in social situations, that’s never been the case with Baugh.

His attitude has always been: "It’s just politics, nothing personal."

Which is why I think a little friendly competition between he and Rohrabacher would be good.

Baugh told me his wife, Wendy, supports the idea of him running for Congress.

When they were dating years ago, she asked him what his dream job would be.

"I told her serving in the U.S. Congress," he said.

Which begs the question: If a friend holds you back from your pursuing your dreams, is that person really a friend?

I think that’s something Baugh and Rohrabacher need to figure out.

And Baugh’s definitely excited about the possibility.

Maybe enthusiasm is what his party needs in Congress.

After all, Rohrabacher’s been serving since 1989.

I don’t know about you, but anything hanging around my house that long is pretty stale by now.

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached atbvontv1. Listen to her weekly radio segment on "Sunday Brunch with Tom and Lynn" from 11 noon on KOCI/101.5 FM.

In campaigns, ‘authentic,’ ‘outspoken’ are in; ‘polish,’ ‘slick’ are out

By TIM CLARK/ Contributing writer

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have strong momentum in their parties’ respective presidential nominating contests. Neither has an active super PAC. In fact, super PACs are quickly learning that, in today’s political arena, money isn’t necessarily king, anymore.

Voters increasingly want authenticity in their candidates, even if that means a few flaws. Case-in-point: Donald Trump. His rough edges and lack of polish only serve to reinforce his genuineness, his authenticity. Every time Trump is abrasive, he’s also authentic. And despite being one of the lowest-spending campaigns in this primary season, Trump keeps dominating the polls.

This desire for authentic connectedness between candidate and voter has caused huge problems for independent super PACs. Outside “independent” expenditures are, by law and by their very nature, disconnected from the candidate, and the traditional PAC method of simply raining down more mail or more television into a contest no longer works.

Jeb Bush’s super PAC so far has spent an estimated $100 million on the best television, radio and mail that money can buy. Bush’s spending dwarfs that of the other GOP contestants, even outpacing Donald Trump nearly 5-1, but has only managed a sixth-place finish in Iowa and fourth-place in New Hampshire.

Voters have become wise to the look-and-feel of outside money, to the generic “nice-guy, nice tie” or the “he’s evil because” messages. These are exactly the type of messages most independent efforts are built to deliver, making up for a lack of depth with an increase in production values and sheer communication volume.

“Polish” and “slick” are out; “authentic” and “outspoken” are in.

In California, independent expenditures often eclipse actual candidate spending in any particular contest, a byproduct of 1998’s Proposition 73 campaign finance reform, which limited contributions to candidate campaigns. Yet, just like the presidential contest, large independent expenditures that previously ruled California’s political landscape now struggle to maintain effectiveness.

In recent elections my team guided several legislative “upset” campaign victories where my candidates were outspent by as much as 20-1. That includes California’s 1st Assembly District 2012 primary, when a lifelong seed farmer from the small town of Bieber defeated the well-funded mayor of the district’s largest city, Redding.

Farmer Brian Dahle’s messaging was authentic: his plain-spoken voice on the radio, his farming baseball cap and dusty Carhartt jacket, and the dirt under his finger nails. Despite being outspent better than 2-1, including a huge outside independent effort against him, Dahle prevailed with 64 percent of the vote.

Election laws forbid independent-expenditure efforts from coordinating with candidate campaigns. And most PACs don’t take the steps necessary understand the ongoing campaign environment – steps that should include talking with local activists, attending forums, reading social media trends and driving through neighborhoods to gauge yard-sign distribution and other campaign clues. That leads to communications with voters that seem sterile and lacking in authenticity.

PACs have also struggled to understand that the rise of social media has changed the filter through which voters process information. Online activity, particularly through social media “echo chambers,” is uniquely authentic. And creating a comprehensive Web presence can be a lower-cost operation.

In the case of Orange County state Sen. John Moorlach’s March 2015 special election victory,Moorlach was outspent 3-1 and was hit with hundreds of thousands of dollars of outside attack mail and cable television. The Moorlach team relied on a well-rounded Web presence, complete with multiple social media channels, to deliver much of the response to these attacks.

We targeted a broad Facebook audience of “friends” in and around the district’s likely voter population. This strategy added to the “echo” and significantly boosted the chatter and credibility of the Moorlach message. With little money and a lot of Facebook, we effectively turned back the mail and television attacks – helping Moorlach win and avoid a runoff election.

PACs and independent campaigns will exist as long as contribution limits are in place. But the voter-contact world has changed, and many independent expenditure entities are struggling to influence election outcomes. How these groups adapt will determine if big money really matters, anymore.

Tim Clark, a longtime Republican political strategist based in Sacramento, led the successful 2015 Moorlach for Senate campaign.


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