The 2020 Primary election will be in March, so the campaign season is solidifying. Last month the OC Register provided a perspective on my race against two Democrat candidates. It is the first piece below.
July 31st was the deadline for filing campaign contribution reports, so the customary pieces are also below. The second piece is from the OC Register and the third piece is from the Daily Pilot.
This has been the busiest year in the state Capitol to date, which has limited my time. I want to thank everyone who contributed to my campaign and those who intend to in the near future. As you know I’ll be in touch after the Session concludes in mid-September.
As the incumbent, I get to be attacked for the next seven months by two Democrat opponents. That’s why they call it a campaign. After the Primary, I will, hopefully, only be taking attacks from the Primary’s prevailing Democrat.
This is a partisan seat and Orange County’s Democrats were very successful in last November’s General election. Consequently, I want to thank the Orange County Republican Party, through its Central Committee, for its endorsement. I also want to thank the California Republican Party for its endorsement. My list of local elected official endorsements is growing with each passing week. I have great support. And, I have a solid and proven record to stand on.
I was not contacted by the reporters for any of the three pieces below. So, I could not engage in responding to the old and warn out cliches thrown my way. But, it’s game on. Orange County will have a chance to decide if Sacramento should be run by one party or if it deems that a more healthy two-party approach is preferable. With me, voters have someone who is trying to keep Sacramento’s spending down and the Democrats accountable. More importantly, business owners will have to decide if they are comfortable with labor organizations supporting those Democrats, thus making a difficult state in which to run a business even more so.
Democrats target Orange County’s State Senate seats for 2020 elections
Chang faces familiar foe; Moorlach will meet two viable contenders.
Two of the five State Senate seats that touch Orange County are up for election in 2020, and while both are held by Republican incumbents Democrats see both as potential flip districts, as the party hopes to make the county match its statewide super majority.
But Republicans are confident that a controversial challenger in one race, and a well-known incumbent in the other will help Sens. Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, and John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, hang on to their seats.
“We feel very good about their chances to be sent back to Sacramento,” said Matt Fleming, spokesman for the California Republican Party.
Though some local state senate districts have switched party representation in recent years, Republicans have long held at least three of the county’s five seats.
State senators are elected to four-year terms, with half of the seats up during presidential elections and the other half up during midterms. Last year, incumbents held on to all three OC state senate seats that were contested. Those included the solidly Republican 36th District in south OC, represented by Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel; the solidly blue 32nd District, which covers part of south Los Angeles County plus a slice of north OC and is represented by Bob Archuleta, D-Pico Rivera; and central OC’s 34th District, a seat that has flipped between red and blue in recent years and now is represented Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana.
Next year, if either or both Chang and Moorlach fall to what figure to be viable contenders, a majority of local state senate districts would be blue for the first time in recent history.
Chang vs. Newman rematch
Chang’s seat has the most complicated background and the most headline-grabbing contender.
The 29th District covers much of northeast Orange County, from Yorba Linda through Fullerton and over to Cypress, plus Diamond Bar in Los Angeles County and Chino Hills in San Bernardino County.
The seat had been held by a Republican for multiple terms, but voter registration now leans blue, with 36.1 percent Democrats vs. 31.07 percent GOP. The district also chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by nearly 13 percentage points in 2016, the same year it elected Democrat Josh Newman over Chang, by just 2,498 votes.
The seat didn’t stay blue for long, though.
In 2017, months after entering office, Newman was among 81 legislators who voted to raise the state gas tax by 12 cents per gallon to help pay for transportation projects and road improvements around the state. Republicans, who saw Newman as vulnerable, soon launched a recall effort against him, touting the gas tax vote as part of their recall campaign. That effort succeeded, and a year ago, in a low turnout primary, voters recalled Newman and sent Chang to take his place.
Chang, a Taiwanese immigrant who worked for a business consulting group, served one prior term on the State Assembly and two terms on the Diamond Bar City Council. Since being elected to the State Senate, she has focused on issues surrounding public safety, veterans and technology. This week, her office announced that eight bills she’s authored on these issues all passed out of key committees.
Given her track record, and the fact that she’s likely going to face only Newman, who was handily recalled (58% of voters were favor his ouster), state GOP spokesman Fleming believes Chang will be on solid ground next year.
But Newman pointed out that he was an underdog when he won in 2016. And, since then, Democrats have only expanded their voter registration advantage in SD 29, with voters sending Democrats to Congressional seats that overlap the district. Plus, Newman noted that Republicans were criticized for using the recall process to oust him for casting a vote — not for malfeasance — just months after voters sent him to Sacramento.
In his bid for a comeback in 2020, Newman, a former Army officer and businessman, isn’t wasting any time resuming his use of unusual campaign tactics.
Last time around, he dressed in a bear suit and used a remote-controlled blimp to attract attention. This time, his campaign bought an ice cream truck, with a plan to visit key locations in the district and hand out free treats with campaign information on the wrappers.
Fleming called the tactics “crazy,” but Newman sees them as “whimsical” and effective ways to engage voters on serious issues.
“It turns out people are actually hungry for elected leaders who are real people who are willing to be accessible, accountable and up to the task of tackling hard problems without endlessly dodging or spinning.”
Challengers for Moorlach
Heading into 2020, Moorlach can point to strong name recognition earned during a long career in Orange County.
Starting with famously predicting the county’s 1994 bankruptcy, and riding that fame to elected office as county treasurer and, later, as a supervisor, Moorlach also has a reputation for fiscal conservancy. A reprimand for giving a woman a playful but unwanted “noogie” is about the only controversy Moorlach has found himself in.
“He’s a household name,” Fleming said.
But there are some signs that the seat could be up for grabs this election cycle, with some GOP insiders saying Moorlach might have a tough race ahead.
The 37th District covers central Orange County, stretching from Anaheim to Laguna Beach and including at least portions of major cities such as Irvine, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. The district still leans red, with 34.7 percent of voters registered Republicans vs. 31.3 percent Democrats, but voters did go for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by 6 percentage points in 2016. And, last year, voters elected Democrats to Congress for overlapping House seats.
Katrina Foley, one of two Democrats so far challenging Moorlach in the 2020 race, says the recent voting pattern “underscores the ripe opportunity to flip this Senate seat red-to-blue.”
Foley, an attorney and a 10-year member of the Costa Mesa City Council, is now serving as the city’s first directly elected mayor. Her campaign for state senate is centered on fighting climate change, public safety and job creation. And she has been racking up endorsements from labor groups and prominent Democrats, including CA 48 Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Laguna Beach.
The other Democrat challenging Moorlach is Dave Min, a law professor at UC Irvine. Min, a first generation Korean American, hasn’t previously held political office, but he served as senior policy adviser for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. Last year, he ran for the 45th Congressional seat and lost a bid to make the general election when Katie Porter edged him by 2.5 percentage points in the primary.
Along with protecting the environment and fighting for affordable housing, Min is running on reducing gun violence, protecting immigrant communities and standing up to Trump.
Big money flowing into state Senate, Assembly races in Orange County
First half of 2019 shows donations roughly even between Dems and GOP candidates.
Donors have already poured nearly $4 million into nine races for seats representing Orange County in the state Assembly and state Senate, according to the first campaign finance reports of the 2020 election cycle.
Six of the nine seats are held by Republicans, but records for the six months ending June 30 show fundraising is nearly even between the two parties. For the period, local Democrats pulled in $2.2 million and local Republicans $1.8 million.
Figures show some repeat candidates are ahead of where they were at this time last election cycle, though several challengers have out-raised the incumbents they hope to beat. And with seven months until the primary and 15 months until the general election, all but one of the state races in Orange County has soared past the national average of $150,000 per seat.
Here’s a closer look at how each state Assembly and Senate race is shaping up.
Money flows into AD-74
Assembly District 74 in central coastal Orange County could be one of the most expensive state seats in California next year, with candidates already bringing in nearly $900,000 and spending $127,502.
Though the GOP says freshmen incumbent Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, is the “most vulnerable” local incumbent in the legislature, to date she has raised more money than any other O.C. candidate — $613,588. She hopes to fend off two GOP competitors in the narrowly red district.
Major Petrie-Norris’ donors include public safety, building, labor, health care, cannabis and banking groups, as well as Planned Parenthood and other candidates.
One GOP challenger, Newport Beach Mayor Diane Dixon, raised $207,789, mostly from individuals and developers. That figure also includes $24,000 that she loaned to the campaign.
Republican Kelly Ernby of Huntington Beach, an Orange County deputy district attorney, reported $72,433 in contributions largely from individuals.
Incumbent leads in AD-55
Two-term incumbent Phillip Chen, R-Brea, is so far easily besting two Democratic challengers in the race for the 55th Assembly District, which includes northeast Orange County plus parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.
Chen raised $305,538 through June, with money coming from public safety, health care, banking, energy, tobacco and cannabis groups. That’s more than double what he’d raised at the same point in the last election cycle.
Democratic challenger Andrew Rodriguez, mayor pro tem of Walnut, raised $113,001, much of it from labor groups, developers and individuals. He also loaned himself $1,800.
Another Democratic challenger, Michelle Hamilton, who founded a nonprofit that helps combat workplace inequality, has raised $23,496 almost entirely from individuals.
Challenger drawing money in AD-68
Bragging rights for the biggest fundraising haul in the 68th Assembly District, which includes much of central Orange County, go to Democratic challenger Melissa Fox. The attorney who sits on the Irvine City Council took in $174,515, including contributions from labor, firefighters and real estate groups.
Fox’s total is more than double the $77,785 amount raised so far by two-term incumbent Steven Choi, R-Irvine, who hopes to keep his seat in a narrowly red district.
Republican challenger Benjamin Yu, president of a foundation that advocates for Asian-American equality, listed $132,318 in money raised for the period. That figure includes a $100,000 loan from himself.
State records don’t show any fundraising reports for Democratic challenger Eugene Fields.
GOP incumbent leads in AD-72
Freshmen incumbent Tyler Diep, R-Westminster, has brought in $309,650 to hold his 72nd Assembly seat, a narrowly red district that includes northern coastal Orange County. The money has come from, among others, public safety groups, cannabis companies, energy companies and Native American tribes.
Diep’s challenger Josh Lowenthal, who lost to Diep by 3.2 percentage points in November, reported $66,621 in fundraising through a single donation from the California Democratic Party.
Money flowing in SD-29 rematch
In the pending rematch for California’s 29th Senate District, which covers much of northeast Orange County and parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, GOP incumbent Ling Ling Chang has the edge over Democrat Josh Newman — though the difference is not as big as it first appears.
Chang, R-Diamond Bar, reported $393,839 in contributions, including a $70,000 loan she made to her campaign. Much of the rest comes from building, tobacco, pharmaceutical, banking and health care groups.
Newman has raised $109,307, from labor groups, Planned Parenthood, other candidates and individual donors, among others. But he also rolled over some banked cash and took back $240,000 he’d loaned from his 2020 campaign when he was targeted last year for recall. After expenses, he’s left with $233,909 in cash.
Newman defeated Chang by less than 1 percentage point in 2016, but was recalled last year after he voted in favor of the state gas tax. In June 2018, Chang won the seat. Since then, Democrats in SD-29 have widened their advantage in voter registration.
Dems take money lead in SD-37
The two Democrats challenging GOP incumbent John Moorlach for California’s 37th Senate District, in central OC, each raised much more money than Moorlach did in the first six months.
Dave Min, a law professor at UC Irvine, brought in $325,393 largely from individual donors and other blue candidates. He also has the most cash on hand, with $245,091 left going into July.
Katrina Foley, an attorney and member of the Costa Mesa City Council, reported $246,383 in contributions from individual donors, labor groups and other candidates. She reported $181,985 in cash after expenses.
Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, took in $163,803 with major contributions from tobacco, insurance, developer, energy and health care groups plus Facebook and Nike. After expenses and with funds raised earlier in his four-year term, he had $233,924 in cash heading into July.
No challengers; lots of money
Both Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, and Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, are running unopposed for the 65th and 69th Assembly District seats respectively. But both are still raising big cash for their campaigns.
Quirk-Silva raised $234,310 for a fourth term in the 65th, which represents heavily Democratic central and northern Orange County. Daly, who represents the even deeper blue 69th, also in central OC, reported $277,721 in contributions.
Picture incomplete in AD-73
Three-term GOP incumbent Bill Brough, R-Dana Point, is the only candidate raising money in the race for the 73rd Assembly District. But in his bid to hold the solidly GOP seat, the early numbers aren’t the whole story.
Brough brought in $143,216 in the first six months, from real estate, health care, alcohol, tobacco and energy groups plus Home Depot’s PAC. The state shows no fundraising so far from Democrat Scott Rhinehart, who challenged Brough in 2018 and filed to run against him again in 2020.
But in late June, following reports that Brough made aggressive, unwanted sexual advances against several women in recent years, two GOP challengers entered the race. Brough denies the allegations. And while complaints have been filed, no charges or sanctions have been brought against him.
“We need change,” said one of his challengers, Melanie Eustice, chief of administration in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Eustice and another GOP challenger, Mission Viejo Councilman Ed Sachs, both entered the race after the fundraising period, so the financial side of the race will become more clear after Jan. 31, 2020, when the next reports are due.
Political Landscape: Petrie-Norris raises more than $600K for re-election, Dixon leads challengers
By HILLARY DAVIS
Freshman Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) is currently far ahead of her two declared 2020 rivals in terms of fundraising as she seeks to hold onto her seat in the 74th District.
Petrie-Norris raised about $614,000 between Jan. 1 and June 30, the latest financial disclosures show. Republican challengers Diane Dixon and Kelly Ernby raised about $208,000 and $72,000, respectively, over the same period.
“Thanks to donations of all amounts, I am confident we will have the resources to run a sophisticated and effective campaign — one that is focused on the progress we are making on critical issues such as housing and homelessness, climate change, public safety and economic development,” Petrie-Norris said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing this momentum.”
Although her totals aren’t as robust as Petrie-Norris’ so far, Dixon is leading all candidates seeking to unseat Assembly incumbents statewide.
"Republicans and [independent] voters in the 74th District are uniting against the far-left, one-party-dominated policies coming from Sacramento that Cottie Petrie-Norris has embraced,” Dixon said in a statement. “Sacramento has not made us safer. Sacramento has not fixed our roads. Sacramento has not fixed the pension crisis. But Sacramento does spend more of our money and then doles it back in celebrations with oversized checks. We can do better than that and the voters and donors know it.”
The 74th Assembly District covers Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, part of Huntington Beach and most of Irvine.
Over in Assembly District 72 — which covers Fountain Valley and a portion of Huntington Beach — incumbent Tyler Diep (R-Westminster) raised about $310,000. He is currently running unopposed.
In state Senate District 37, challenger Dave Min is pacing the three-candidate pack in terms of fundraising.
The candidates for the 37th Senate District are, from left, incumbent John
Moorlach, Katrina Foley and Dave Min.
Min, a UC Irvine law professor, pulled in about $325,000 from Jan. 1 to June 30. Fellow challenger Katrina Foley raised $246,000, while incumbent John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) raised about $164,000.
Min and Foley are Democrats.
“I’m so proud of the people-powered movement we’re building on the ground here in SD 37,” Min said in a statement. “Sen. Moorlach is a career politician whose extremist views — on Donald Trump, immigration, the environment, women’s rights and gun control — are completely out of touch with the values of hardworking Orange County families.”
The district includes Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and about half of Huntington Beach, plus Irvine.
Campaign contribution forms were submitted to the Secretary of State’s office. Figures are rounded to the nearest dollar.
74th Assembly District
- Contributions received: $613,588
- Expenditures made: $70,188
- Ending cash balance: $557,734
- Contributions received: $207,790
- Expenditures made: $33,452
- Ending cash balance: $177,338
- Contributions received: $72,433
- Expenditures made: $23,864
- Ending cash balance: $54,028
72nd Assembly District
- Contributions received: $309,650
- Expenditures made: $29,002
- Ending cash balance: $280,648
37th Senate District
- Contributions received: $163,803
- Expenditures made: $41,243
- Ending cash balance: $233,925
- Contributions received: $246,384
- Expenditures made: $69,494
- Ending cash balance: $181,986
- Contributions received: $325,393
- Expenditures made: $87,235
- Ending cash balance: $245,092