Republican on Republican campaigns have not been pretty here in the OC. The strategy seems to be simple. Do polling. If you’re behind, attack your opponent. If you’re really behind, make negative stuff up. Why? To possibly close the gap. Conclusion? Mud-slinging is usually done by desperate candidates. But, it is very embarrassing and unbecoming to the rest of us elected-Republicans in the vicinity.
I had to endure an incredible onslaught of false charges in negative campaign mail three years ago in my 2015 Special Election candidacy. It was not fun and it backfired for my opponent. But, three years later and I still hear laments about the nonsense I had to endure.
In the June, 2016 Primary for the 68th Assembly, one candidate also went over the line. And this apparent leader did not have to do it. So, I made mention of it in one of my UPDATEs (see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — June Primary – Part One — May 18, 2016). I put the following at the bottom of the UPDATE:
“NOTE: The Sidhu campaign has issued a mailer that is unconscionable, misleading and inappropriate. This campaign methodology is unacceptable. Innuendo and false implication is unseemly, and this Republican is repulsed by it.”
Why did I do this? During the barrage that I endured in 2015, I can only recall one elected Republican taking my opponent to task over it. So, I decided to change this “look the other way attitude” and make my disappointment public.
Candidate and then-Irvine Mayor Steven Choi used the above quote on a number of his final mail pieces. The result? We now call him Assemblymember Choi.
This year, candidate Scott Baugh is taking similar false charges against himself in a complaint to the Orange County Republican Party’s Ethics Committee. And, I’ve signed a letter in support of this approach.
The Daily Pilot provides the details in the first piece below.
With that, let me also use Barbara Venezia’s column to provide my June Primary Voter’s Guide as the second piece below.
My rules are simple (also see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — June Primary – Part One — May 18, 2016).
1. Endorse Republicans.
2. When I endorse, show the name in bold.
3. If there is a good second choice or two good first choices, list them in italics.
4. If I don’t know who you are or are not endorsed, leave names in normal type.
For the second time in my life, I am an opposition signatory on ballot measure arguments, this time for two Propositions, 68 and 69. I provided them for Proposition 68 at MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Proposition 68 — March 23, 2018 (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2017 State Per Capita UNPs — April 2, 2018).
For Proposition 69, which is a sad and embarrassing case of redundancy, telling the Legislature to spend transportation funding on transportation projects, my submissions are the third piece below.
Oh, the irony! Politicians are asking for civil campaigning
Former Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh took exception last week to campaign mailers sent out by his chief opponent in the 48th Congressional District race, incumbent Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa).
“They are just making stuff up and throwing it out to see what sticks,” Baugh said of the accusations made about him in the fliers.
Rohrabacher’s campaign hasn’t responded to my questions about the assertions.
But Baugh isn’t letting this go.
On April 23, he wrote to OC GOP Chairman Ken Whitaker, requesting “an ethics investigation into the false, misleading, defamatory and distorted information used by Dana Rohrabacher’s campaign committee and Congressman Rohrabacher himself.”
The letter explains Baugh’s complaints about Rohrabacher’s mailers, which accuse him of being pro-amnesty and supported by “Never Trumpers.” Neither claim is true.
“If the lies in Rohrabacher’s mail were sent out against a favored Republican, the OCGOP would issue swift rebuke and condemn the liars,” Baugh says. “The OCGOP cannot have a double standard when applying ethics by applying a harsh standard to challengers and ignoring the lies of incumbents. Otherwise the party would lose credibility.
“At a minimum, I expect that Chairman Whitaker make certain the lies are stopped. As far as punishment, the OCGOP has options of admonition, reprimand, censure and even withdrawing an endorsement.”
Also on April 23, Baugh signed another letter to Whitaker along with over a dozen OC Republican Central Committee members, including state Sens. Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) and John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), school choice advocate Mark Bucher and Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill.
Newport council members Diane Dixon and Kevin Muldoon and Costa Mesa Councilman Jim Righeimer also signed.
“We write to request that you take immediate action to stop the Rohrabacher (for) Congress campaign from distributing false information about Scott Baugh, chairman emeritus the Republican Party of Orange County,” their letter stated.
The group defended Baugh as a Republican leader, saying he served the party “faithfully for decades,” walking precincts on behalf of candidates, volunteering and raising “more money (exceeding $20 million) for Republican candidates throughout Orange County and the entire country” — more than any other volunteer in OCGOP history.
In closing, they acknowledged that the party endorsed Rohrabacher before Baugh entered the race, but that “endorsement cannot be used as an umbrella to allow incumbents to engage in false and negative campaigning,” they wrote.
“These false accusations and negative campaigning tactics reflect poorly on each of us — especially when done by one of our endorsed candidates,” the letter stated.
I asked Dixon why she signed.
“I do not support a race to the bottom (or) campaign mudslinging,” she said.
And though she hasn’t endorsed anyone in this race, she does support “Baugh’s effort to run a campaign based on facts and important issues.”
Seeing signatures from the likes of Muldoon, O’Neill and Dixon seemed a bit hypocritical of them. They’ve all used Newport political consultant Dave Ellis, a guy not known for pulling punches in campaigns. And I should know: When I ran for Newport Beach City Council in 2006 one of my opponents used Ellis, who sent out fact-bending mailers about me. I asked Ellis to comment for this column, but he declined.
I asked Dixon about her Ellis connection; she wasn’t ready to talk about it.
“We are all big boys and know that campaigns can get nasty,” Baugh says. “That has gone on since before the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Candidates often distort and stretch the truth, but there is a bright line that cannot be sanctioned when the candidate is lying about his opponent.”
But isn’t that splitting hairs? Truth isn’t meant to be distorted or stretched.
Now, I agree with Baugh that this practice needs to end. And I’m glad notable elected officials are taking a stand.
But you can’t complain about these tactics one minute and belly up to the bar with those who’ve perpetrated the practice the next.
Baugh recently added former Anaheim blogger Matthew Cunningham to his PR team. Cunningham’s had his own go-around with controversy.
In 2013 he published a photo of a defaced teddy bear next to a Virgin of Guadalupe candle, which he says was misrepresented by the media as mimicking a “memorial shrine Latino families place at the locations where their sons and brothers have been shot by police.” It sparked outrage.
Cunningham says that wasn’t the intent of his blog post and tried to correct the story with reporters, telling them it was a satirical moment gone wrong, one which he regretted, and that he never intended to offend Latinos — his wife is Mexican — and would never do that.
He feels his political enemies helped perpetuate the damaging narrative, which cost him dearly financially and personally and remains a painful chapter.
Whatever side of the mudslinging you’re on, this negative political culture has been allowed to fester for decades, not only within the O.C. Republican Party but the Democratic Party as well.
Can Baugh be the instrument of change within his party, forcing the establishment to re-evaluate its definition of the “truth” and ethical behavior?
If he succeeds, it’s a game-changer.
BARBARA VENEZIA is an opinion columnist writing political and social commentary since 2007. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
★ ARGUMENT AGAINST PROPOSITION 69 ★
How insulting can a ballot proposition be? Last year, a two-thirds majority of state legislators voted for a gas tax and vehicle fee increase for transportation improvements. And now they are asking you to tell them to only spend the money on that intended purpose? Do you see the lunacy of this request?
Is this measure supposed to make us feel better? Or is it an indictment that Sacramento can’t help itself when it comes to spending your money? It’s wasting billions of dollars for high speed rail, with massive cost overruns. And this proposition is supposed to prevent them from spending drift? Or is this an admission that, like an alcoholic, Sacramento is saying it won’t siphon off some of your gas tax for other boondoggles, this time? And, once again, they really mean it. How sad can California’s legislature get? Did you know that Caltrans wastes some $500 million per year? Because it’s overstaffed by nearly 3,300 architects and engineers and it is hiring more? That it only outsources ten percent of engineering work when most states outsource half? Did Sacramento streamline Caltrans before raising your gas taxes? No!
It embarrasses me, as a fiscal conservative, to have to ask you to tell Sacramento to spend a gas tax on highway repairs. It’s disingenuous and duplicitous. How long will the voters of this state enable free-spending liberals to drive our Golden State into the ground? Accordingly, I’m voting “No” on this tripe called Proposition 69. You should too.
SENATOR JOHN M.W. MOORLACH 37th Senate District
★ REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF PROPOSITION 69 ★
NO ON 69: BROKEN PROMISES HAVE LED TO A RUNDOWN, OUTDATED, AND CONGESTED TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
Prior to the recent gas tax increases, Sacramento had plenty of your money through transportation-related fees and taxes to fix our crumbling roads, upgrade transportation infrastructure, and repair aging bridges. However, time and time again, the state spent YOUR money on everything BUT transportation. Now our roads are in complete decay, they promise that this time, they’ll spend it as intended. While protecting your money is commendable, Californians are already unnecessarily taxed at the pump. If Sacramento were judicious in the handling of your money, California’s transportation system would not be facing such crisis.
PROP. 69 PROTECTS TRANSPORTATION MONEY THAT WILL NOT FIX OUR ROADS
While the proponents argue protecting these dollars ensures traffic congestion relief, filling potholes, and safety improvements, it’s not quite the case. A portion of money protected by Proposition 69 is for transit, which is NOT fixing our roads; no new infrastructure, no updates to California’s crumbling roads, and no traffic relief. Other dollars can go to projects like high speed rail, bike lanes, and protecting habitat.
PROPOSITION 69 FAILS TO PROTECT OVER $1 BILLION
Proposition 69 fails to protect ALL transportation dollars. Sacramento will collect $1 billion annually in vehicle weight fees, which will go unprotected and backfill the State’s General Fund. Proposition 69 fails to fully protect transportation taxes from being diverted to programs that do nothing to fix our roads and highways. VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 69.
ASSEMBLYMAN FRANK BIGELOW 5th Assembly District
SENATOR JOHN MOORLACH 37th Senate District