MOORLACH UPDATE — Ballot Opposition Arguments — June 6, 2018

It was nice to not be on the ballot. But, I did have plenty of campaign-related activities with Propositions 68 and 69. It is certainly a rare privilege to write two ballot opposition arguments that appeared in the voter pamphlet prepared by the California Secretary of State. The Daily Californian covers the predictable, but disappointing, results in the piece below.

Now, it is on to the General Election on November 6th. Congratulations to all of the Republican Primary candidates that made it to the top two. For those Republicans who ran and did not make it, please do not be bitter. Be better, and consider another attempt in the future.

The other two big news items are the success of the recall in the 29th Senate District and having a Republican challenger for Governor. I’m sure I’ll have more insights to share between now and November. Let’s see if I get another opportunity to write ballot arguments against expensive or non-beneficial propositions that are up in the General Election.

Majority of California, Alameda County measures pass in state primary election


Proposition 68 — which will fund parks, natural resources protection, water quality and supply, climate adaptation and flood protection — passed with 55.5 percent approval.

Prop. 68 will authorize $4 billion in general obligation bonds for parks, natural resources protection, climate adaptation, water quality and supply, and flood protection.

It will increase state bond repayment costs, averaging $200 million annually over 40 years, and provide local government savings for natural resources-related projects, likely averaging several tens of millions of dollars annually over the next few decades.

California state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, is opposed to the measure on multiple grounds, saying in a statement that the money would not be distributed fairly and equally across the state.

“Of the $4 billion dollar bond, only $1.3 billion is actually dedicated to improving parks,” Moorlach said in the statement. “A lot of the remaining money is given to politicians to spend on their pet projects.”

Proposition 69, which will require that certain new transportation revenues be used for transportation purposes, passed with 80.8 percent approval.

Prop. 69 will require that certain revenues generated by a 2017 transportation funding law, SB 1, be used only for funding transportation initiatives and bans the Legislature from using the funds for anything else.

The proposition would have no direct effect on revenues or costs but could affect the allocation of money.

Yes on Prop 69 campaign spokesperson Kathy Fairbanks said this proposition will ensure accountability within transportation groups.

“Prop. 69 would make sure the money drivers are putting in goes to repairing the roads, highway safety and relieving congestion,” Fairbanks said. “It should give people comfort knowing that transportation dollars will be spent efficiently and only on transportation.”

Proposition 70, which would have required a legislative supermajority vote approving the use of cap-and-trade reserve funds, failed to pass with 62.4 percent rejection.

Prop. 70 would have required that cap-and-trade revenues collect in a reserve fund until the Legislature authorizes use of the revenues by a two-thirds majority.

Revenue collected from the sale of state greenhouse gas emission permits would have been relocated into a separate fund beginning in 2024 — the deposits would only have been allowed to build, until the passage of a bill that spends money from that fund by the state Legislature.

The current state sales tax exemption for manufacturing and other equipment would have been suspended, while “auction revenue” would have been deposited into the special fund.

Proposition 71, which will set an effective date for ballot measures, passed with 77.1 percent approval.

Prop. 71 will mandate that ballot measures approved by a simple majority of voters will take effect five days after the election results are certified by the secretary of state.

Many state ballot measures, or propositions, will take effect about six weeks after Election Day — after the statewide vote has been counted and certified.

Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington said he supports Prop. 70 because it clarifies when measures will take effect after the election.

“It can look like something wins on election day, but people who send their ballots through the mail may vote differently than people on election day,” Worthington said. “Having measures go into effect after the secretary of state certifies the results is a common-sense reform.”

Proposition 72, which will permit the Legislature to exclude newly constructed rain-capture systems from the property-tax reassessment requirement, passed with 83.4 percent approval.

Prop. 72 will authorize the Legislature to allow construction of rain-capture systems without the property-tax revaluation requirement for systems completed on or after Jan. 1, 2019.

A system installed to collect and store rainwater on a property would not result in a higher property tax bill, according to the text of the measure.

The measure will likely result in a minor reduction of the annual property tax revenues to local governments.

Measure A, the “Alameda County Child Care and Early Education Measure” passed with 65.2 percent approval.

Measure A will expand access to child care and preschool for low- and middle-income families, solicit and retain child care workers, aid homeless and at-risk children — including with child abuse and neglect prevention help — and add child care spaces around the county.

This would be paid for by a half-percent sales tax lasting 30 years, to be enacted by the county of Alameda, providing about $140 million annually with citizens’ oversight, public disclosure of spending and mandatory annual audits.

The measure will need a two-thirds majority of “yes” votes to go into effect.

Measure B, which will fund school maintenance and services in the San Lorenzo Unified School District, passed with 67.9 percent approval, with 85.96 percent of precincts reported in San Lorenzo.

Measure B will upgrade outdated classrooms, restrooms and educational buildings at local schools; make health, safety and security system improvements; improve student access to technology; and replace and upgrade outdated heating, ventilation and electrical systems within the San Lorenzo Unified School District.

The measure will allow the district board to issue and sell bonds of up to $130 million in aggregate principal amount at interest rates within the legal limits.

Measure C, a measure concerning affordable housing bonds in Emeryville, passed with 71.6 percent approval, with 80 percent of precincts reported in Emeryville.

Measure C will provide affordable housing and prevent displacement of vulnerable populations — including low- and middle-income households, veterans, local artists, seniors and the disabled — as well as provide supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness and help low- and middle-income households purchase homes in Emeryville.

The measure requests voter authorization to issue general obligation bonds to finance affordable housing projects of $50 million, with an estimated average levy of 4.912 cents per $100 of assessed value — this would generate approximately $3.422 million annually to pay bonds over 27 years.

Measure D, which aims to maintain, protect and improve library services throughout Oakland, passed with 75.8 percent approval, with 80.73 percent of precincts reported in Oakland.

This measure will authorize a 20-year annual, special parcel tax that will raise revenue to protect and improve direct library services throughout Oakland.

The city can use the revenue only for the purposes specified in the ordinance, such as programs including early childhood literacy and student homework support for children, teens and adults, as well as employee staffing costs to maintain and expand library hours.

Regional Measure 3, the “Bay Area Traffic Relief Plan,” passed in Alameda County with 54.2 percent approval.

Regional Measure 3 will reduce auto and truck traffic, relieve crowding on BART, unclog freeway bottlenecks and improve bus, ferry, BART and commuter rail service.

The measure will increase the tolls on all Bay Area toll bridges except the Golden Gate Bridge to fund these projects. The tolls will increase by $1 in 2019, an additional $1 in 2022 and an additional $1 in 2025, for a total increase of $3 in the span of six years. After 2025, tolls can be increased for inflation.

In order to pass, Regional Measure 3 had to pass through nine counties — the city and county of San Francisco and the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma.

Worthington said BART will receive $500 million from the measure to replace old BART cars and build new ones, which will make BART less crowded.

“Old cars break down and cause the system to slow down,” Worthington said. “This measure is critically essential to the Bay Area.”

The above voting data is accurate as of press time, with 75.52 percent of precincts reported in Alameda County and 58.4 percent of precincts reported in California for state measures. As Measures B, C and D were not voted on by all Alameda County voters, the percentages of precincts reported are listed separately for each.

Contact Amanda Bradford at abradford and follow her on Twitter at @amandabrad_uc.

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

Also follow me on Facebook & Twitter @SenatorMoorlach

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — CA AG Reception Invitation — May 24, 2018

For me, this year’s June Primary has revolved around five major ballot items.

48th Congressional District –

The one receiving the most national attention has been the decision by Scott Baugh to challenge Dana Rohrabacher.

The OC Register covers this topic today. It can be seen at Since it draws on previous articles on this topic, I’ll pass on providing the entire article below.

To see my other ballot recommendations for the June Primary and a previous discussion on the Baugh/Rohrabacher battle, go to MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — June Primary Antics — April 28, 2018.

Propositions 68 and 69 –

The next is the two Propositions 68 and 69 that have me garnering statewide attention. My last report on this subject can be found at MOORLACH UPDATE — Propositions 68 and 69 — May 18, 2018 , with my sincerest apologies for not including “CAMPAIGN” in the title.

I continue to receive multiple requests for interviews by radio stations and reporters from around the state. And, because I’m a signatory in opposition to these two ballot measures, I am mentioned in numerous articles due to the association, without an interview, as is the case in the four pieces below.

The Daily Press, in the first piece below, provides a column on the five ballot measures and recommendations, of which I agree 80%, disagreeing on Proposition 70, which I oppose. If you live in San Bernardino County, you’ll appreciate the author’s perspectives.

KTLA Channel 5 provides a voter guide in the second piece below, but I only include the first two propositions.

The Sierra Sun provides a lopsided perspective on Proposition 68 in the third piece below.

The Acorn also shows the allure of localities being the recipients of the bond’s proceeds and is the fourth piece below.

The provides an overall analysis of the gas tax repeal efforts in the fifth piece below, with the potential non-necessity of Proposition 69 by the time the November ballots are cast.

With the minimal campaign activity on these two ballot measures, with just the Secretary of State’s pamphlet and these few news articles, I would find it a personal victory if the “no” vote on Proposition 68 is higher than 40 percent and higher than 30 percent on Proposition 69.

California Attorney General Reception –

The fourth is the statewide candidates. In this regard, I want you to meet the Republican candidate for Attorney General. I can give you a list of more than thirty reasons why this state needs a new AG.

I am hosting a reception for Judge Steven Bailey (Retired) in Orange County on June 1st, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the law offices of Cummins and White, 2424 S. E. Bristol, Suite 300, Newport Beach. There is no charge to attend, but bring your checkbooks, please. Please RSVP to

Governor –

The fifth is the race for Governor. I have stayed neutral. I enjoy a relationship with both of the two main Republican candidates. I have always advised that, in a top-two system, only one Republican should be running in this field. The polling has consistently shown John Cox obtaining double the support of that garnered by Assemblyman Travis Allen. And President Trump has endorsed Cox.

For the sake of the Republican Party, it may be time for the Assemblyman to bow out and endorse John Cox. If this is not done, I believe that we will see Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as the top two.

BONUS: Remember to attend the reception on June 1st and to vote on June 5th.

Fewer propositions but lots of candidates for California voters to wade through


The unexpected effect of the incumbent-protecting top two nominating process was an explosion in the number of candidates, many Democrats and Republicans, quite a few Nones (17) and a scattering of third party hopefuls. So let’s take care of the unusually small number of legislatively sponsored ballot measures (five) first.

Whatever the merits of the three constitutional amendments and two statutes, note well that in all about two, the Assembly and the Senate were sharply divided. For example, supporters of Propositions 68 and 70 claim “bipartisan support,” but the truth is that the 40-member Senate split 27-9 and the 80-member Assembly 56-21 on the first and 27-13 and 59-11 on the second. At best, some Republicans voted for these measures but not many. Even Proposition 69 barely squeaked by 29-10 and 56-24 in the two houses. Remember, Democrats have huge majorities in both houses.

By massive contrast, Proposition 71 was backed 40-0 and 78-0, and 72 by 39-0 and 76-0. But whatever the support or lack of it for these measures, we must consider them on the merits.

Proposition 68 is a grab bag bond measure with a big price tag for a multitude of “park, natural resources protection, climate adaptation, water quality and supply and flood protection” fixes — who could oppose that? Certainly not the California Chamber of Commerce. But it comes with a price tag of $4 billion and a 40-year payment period the interest of which will double the cost. As State Sen. John Moorlach argues, California already leads all other states in total indebtedness at $169 billion. Vote NO.

Proposition 69 piously promises to donate all revenues from a 2017 “transportation funding law” to transportation needs. But there are at least two difficulties. Money previously so dedicated prior to 2017 was not spent on transportation, and the current measure includes monies for unwanted high speed rail, bike lanes and protecting habitat. Vote NO.

Proposition 70 has won some favorable reviews because it requires a super-majority of two-thirds in both houses of the state legislature to maintain the state’s cap and trade program, which rewards industries for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Here the opposing argument claims that “many Democrats and Republicans opposed putting Proposition on the ballot because it’s a bad deal for California.” That’s not quite true, at least in the State Senate, while proponents make the opposite claim.

Environmentalists are doubtless cool to the super-majority requirement which suits the Chamber of Commerce Just fine. Vote YES.

Proposition 71, which would make ballot measures effective whenever the definitive vote count is established, is headed for victory owing to its unanimous legislative support. With mail-in and absentee ballots coming in after election day, this precaution makes sense. Vote YES.

Proposition 72′s unanimous support derives from its relief from taxation of anyone who, at their own expense, adds rain-capture systems to conserve water. This is a no-brainer. Vote YES.

Now to wade through the multiple candidates for 12 state offices. Democrats and Republicans are scanning the many names looking for someone they recognize and/or they believe can be nominated and elected. Democrats, not surprisingly, have more prominent names than Republicans, particularly for Governor (Gavin Newsome, Antonio Villaraigosa, Diane Eastin, John Chiang), and the two most prominent Republicans are John Cox and Travis Allen. Cox is endorsed by Newt Gingrich, while Allen is endorsed by several state organizations, yet the latter’s campaign fliers have him endorsing several Democrats for other offices. I’ll go with Newt.

Democrat Dianne Feinstein, the four-term incumbent U.S. Senator, is challenged by state Senator Kevin De Leon. Both Republican hopefuls are pushing Arkun K. Bhumitra, but Tom Palzer got my attention with his determination to end the top-two nomination system.

Both Cox and Allen are endorsing Republican Cole Harris for Lieutenant Governor and Steven Poizner for Insurance Commissioner (officially None but actually Republican) on their fliers, while Allen is supporting Democrats Ed Hernandez for Lt. Governor and Dave Jones for Attorney General on other fliers! Go figure! Democrat Eleni Kounalakis is advertising an openly open immigration position in her bid for the No. 2 spot.

Democrat Betty Yee will be hard to beat for Controller, but Republican Konstantinos Roditis will probably face her in November.

Otherwise, likely Republican nominees are Mark Meuser for Secretary of State, Greg Conlon for Treasurer, Steven Bailey for Attorney General, Connie Conway for Board of Equalization and Shannon Grove for State Senate. Marshall Tuck is endorsed by both Democrats and Republican leaders for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

San Bernardino County Judge Arthur Harrison, District Attorney Mike Ramos and appointed Auditor-Controller-Treasurer Oscar Valdez will likely face November runoffs.

Of course, no one really knows who will wind up on the ballot in November, but the incumbents are hoping it’s them — again.

Richard Reeb taught political science, philosophy and journalism at Barstow Community College from 1970 to 2003. He is the author of “Taking Journalism Seriously: ‘Objectivity’ as a Partisan Cause” (University Press of America, 1999). He can be contacted at rhreeb



California Primary: A Simple Guide to the 5 Statewide Measures on the June 5 Ballot


In this file image, voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Alhambra on Nov. 4, 2014. (Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

In this file image, voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Alhambra on Nov. 4, 2014. (Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

The state primary election is on June 5. In addition to selecting their top choices for governor, U.S. senator, members of Congress and other local offices, California voters will get to decide on these five statewide measures:

Proposition 68: Bonds for parks, the environment

Voting “yes” means the authorization of $4.1 billion in general obligation bonds (state debt) to fund parks, natural resources protection, climate adaptation and water infrastructure.

The measure would help pay for projects to maintain forests, rivers, coastal habitats and other natural and recreational areas; finance equipment to remove pollutants from water supplies; and fund levees to protect communities during floods and storms.

On top of the $4.1 billion, the bonds would mean repaying $3.8 billion in interest, according to a state analysis. That means an average repayment cost of around $200 million every year over the next four decades, or about a fifth of a percent of California’s current general fund budget, according to the analysis.

Voting “no” opposes the authorization of the bonds to fund local and state parks, natural resource conservation and water infrastructure.

The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board calls Proposition 68 a “sound investment,” while The Orange County Register says it would leave the state with “unnecessary debt.”

Proposition 69: Spending for roads, transit

Voting “yes” supports a state constitutional amendment requiring lawmakers to continue spending revenues from recently enacted vehicle fees and fuel tax on transportation purposes only.

Voting “no” means lawmakers could in the future spend some of those revenues on purposes other than transportation.

State Sen. John Moorlach and Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, both Republicans, oppose Prop 69. “A portion of money protected by Proposition 69 is for transit, which is NOT fixing our roads,” they say in a statement in the state’s voter guide.

Ballotpedia says it could not find any editorial boards against the measure and cited support from the L.A. Times, The Desert Sun and other publications.

“If that reassurance seems unnecessary, it’s because anti-tax opponents are readying a repeal of the gas tax …” says the San Francisco Chronicle in its editorial. California Republicans are seeking to put a proposed repeal of the 2017 gas tax increase on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

Voters to decide on $4 billion bond to fund clean parks and water conservation

Hannah Jones

On June 5 voters have a chance to secure $4 billion in general obligation bonds, to go towards park maintenance, environmental protection projects and clean water conservation.

If passed, Proposition 68 will be the largest statewide investment into outdoor conservation and restoration projects since 2006. Since that time California’s population has grown from 36 million to 39.5 million, leading environmental groups to fight for the protection of natural resources.

“The reason why these bonds are so necessary is because we can see that our region is changing,” said Chris Mertens, Sierra Business Council government affairs director.

“There’s dying trees, there’s more forest fires, extreme weather events. This bond will help give our region the tools we need to build a more resilient community. It provides and unprecedented amount of funding to protecting our community.”


Several environmental groups in the Tahoe region have endorsed the measure including the Sierra Business Council, Keep Tahoe Blue and the Truckee Donner Land Trust, voicing concerns about the future of Lake Tahoe and the natural resources it provides.

More than 60 percent of California’s water supply comes from the Sierra Nevada. Under Proposition 68, the California Tahoe Conservancy would receive $27 million. In addition to these funds, the Water Supply and Quality Act, scheduled for the Nov. 6 election would supply $100 million to the region.

“Our parks continues to get more and more visitors and the population is growing, so having money dedicated to protecting those resources in vital to this area,” said Darcie Goodman Collins, executive director of Keep Tahoe Blue. Collins said that because most state funding for such projects is competitive among other regions, the $27 million secured through Proposition 68 will “allow that certainty that we can start projects we know we can finish them,” she said.



“We need to protect and improve our state parks, but Proposition 68 is the wrong way to do that,” Andrea Seastrand, President of the Central Coast Taxpayers Association, said in a California official voter information guide. She argued that only $1.3 million will actually go towards parks and that the money will not be distributed equally throughout the state.

State Sen. John Moorlach, who represents most of Orange County, opposed the measure arguing against even higher taxes. In an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee, he cited data from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office reporting that taxpayers would owe $200 million a year for 40 years from the state’s general fund if the measure were to pass.

“That means not just our children, but our grandchildren will be paying it off,” he said.


Prop. 68 funding would be provided in three main categories, with about two- thirds going to parks and wildlife, and one-third going towards water conservation and flood protection. According to the Proposition 68 website, the money will be allocated as follows.

Water conservation

$540 million to ensure clean drinking water

$180 million to groundwater cleanup and water recycling

$550 million to flood protection

$367 million to rivers, lakes, and streams protection and restoration

Parks and recreation

$725 million to neighborhood parks in greatest need of restoration

$285 million to safer and cleaner park facilities in cities, counties, and local park districts

$218 million to repair and improve state parks

$95 million to promote recreation and tourism

Natural Resources

$765 million for conserving and protecting natural areas

$235 million to protect beaches, oceans and the coast

$140 million for climate change resiliency

Statewide, there are 280 state parks which all have a maintenance backlog estimate at $1.2 billion. In the 1980s, California State Parks began to put off maintenance on basic repair projects such as bathrooms, rooftops, fences and trails due to underfunding of the state park’s budget. With deferred maintenance from the past three decades, some of the measure’s money will go towards reducing that backlog.

The last parks bond that was passed was Proposition 84, which gave $5.4 billion in funding to water and flood control projects and park restoration.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Truckee Sun. She can be reached at hjones or 503-550-2652.



Group hopes Prop. 68 funds can

save rural Agoura site from


By Stephanie Bertholdo

The movement to protect Triangle Ranch in rural Agoura as open space has gained traction with the purchase of at least a portion of the property by local environmental groups.

But the status of the 320-acre ranch near Kanan and Cornell roads still remains up in the air, and its fate could be decided by voters in the June 5 election.

The first of four Triangle Ranch parcels have been bought and will remain undeveloped.

Paul Edelman, planning chief for the Mountains Restoration and Conservation Authority and the Santa Mountains Conservancy, said his agencies bought the land in March for $5.85 million from Sage Live Oak of Newport Beach. The cost included a $95,000 option to buy the entire property.

If money is not raised to acquire phases two through four, the Newport developer could move forward with its plans to build 61 custom homes at the ranch.

The conservancy gave a $2-million grant to the MRCA to buy the land for open space. Another $2.5 million came from Los Angeles County park funds. The Agoura Hills-based Hilton Foundation contributed another $50,000 toward the purchase.

Although more money is owed, Edelman feels the deal is finalized.

Other agencies and the City of Agoura Hills may contribute to the purchase—and if Prop. 68, a $4-billion statewide bond measure targeted for parks, environment and water issues, passes in next month’s election, even more funds could become available.

A part of the bond revenue— about $725 million— would be earmarked for construction of neighborhood parks in lower income areas.

Triangle Ranch lies in an unincorporated part of Los Angeles County, and the county could hold sway over how the money is actually spent.

Colleen Holmes, president of Cornell Preservation Organization, is hopeful the bond measure will pass.

“We still have some hills to climb to finish the funding of Triangle (Ranch), but we are optimistic now,” she said.

“If Prop. 68 is passed, we will get all the funding and it will close out by fall,” she said.

Holmes hopes that part of the Triangle property will be dedicated for a Chumash Educational Village to honor the Native Americans who originally occupied the land.

The City of Agoura Hills was approached late last year by Edelman and other agency leaders interested in preserving the land as open space.

The city was asked to contribute $2 million toward the purchase even though the land lies outside the boundaries of Agoura Hills.

Proponents of the project say that the city’s motto—Gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains— should serve as justification for the expenditure.

“We are all waiting to see what happens regarding Prop. 68,” Agoura Hills Mayor Bill Koehler said.

Opponents are worried and say the Prop. 68 bonds must be paid even if another economic recession should strike California and revenues dip.

“Bond measures are deceptive. You think you’re voting for something good. But, it will take approximately $8 billion to pay off the $4 billion of borrowed funds,” state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) said in his ballot statement against Prop. 68.

“That means you can expect a tax increase.”

The opponents say California’s fiscal managers aren’t to be trusted and point to the 2012 scandal in which the state Department of Parks and Recreation threatened to close 70 parks, saying it didn’t have the money to keep them open, when an audit proved otherwise.

California Gas Tax Repeal Efforts Heats Up
California poised to vote on ballot measure to repeal $54 billion in taxes on motorists.

Bicycle laneElection officials are sampling signatures in the effort to roll back a massive hike in California’s tax on gasoline. Earlier this month, supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment repealing the gas tax increase submitted over 940,000 signatures — well more than the 585,407 required for a place on the November ballot.

Last year, the legislature boosted the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon and raised the annual vehicle registration fee to a maximum of $175 per year. The changes were expected to generate $54 billion in revenue over a decade. In response, Republican lawmakers circulated a ballot measure reversing the legislature’s move.

“California’s taxes on gasoline and car ownership are among the highest in the nation,” the proposal explains. “These taxes have been raised without the consent of the people. Therefore, the people hereby amend the constitution to require voter approval of the recent increase in the gas and car tax enacted by Chapter 5 of the statutes of 2017 and any future increases in the gas and car tax.”

A simple majority vote would be required to raise taxes in the future. The Public Policy Institute of California earlier this year found public support for the measure was evenly split, with 61 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of independents in favor of the amendment, but 56 percent of Democrats against the idea.

Supporters of the gas tax hike insist the funds are needed to “fix the roads,” but a large percentage of motorist funds are being diverted toward transit projects. Bus projects will receive $3.5 billion. Light rail projects will take another $3 billion.

This year, Los Angeles is getting a $525 million light rail station and bicycle hub. Orange County is getting $365 million for five hydrogen-powered buses and bicycle paths in Tustin. Sacramento is getting $452 million for HOV lanes and light rail. San Mateo is spending $570 million to turn existing freeway lanes into toll roads. Santa Barbara will get $17 million for bicycle lanes.

In June, California voters will consider Proposition 69, which would prohibit the legislature from transferring motorist funds into the general fund. Motorist funds would still be diverted toward non-motoring-related transit projects.

“How insulting can a ballot proposition be?” state Senator John M.W. Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) asked. “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?”

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

Also follow me on Facebook & Twitter @SenatorMoorlach

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Vote No on Proposition 68 — May 5, 2018

The June Primary is on the horizon, only a month away. This period of time is affectionately referred to as “silly season.” Consequently, even though I am not on the ballot this year, I am still pulled into various races and, this year, ballot measures. Therefore, I note my e-mails as “MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE” for you to know that the content for those with this label are politically oriented.

Many ask me for my ballot recommendations every cycle. For the June Primary it can be found at MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — June Primary Antics — April 28, 2018.

For the U.S. Senate race, the pundits believe the two names that will appear on the November ballot are that of the incumbent, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and State Senator Kevin de Leon. The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board engaged Senator de Leon in a lengthy interview where he mentions me. It can be read and/or listened to at As the segment where I am mentioned discusses SB 1206, I may provide that snippet in a future UPDATE (see MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Housing Trust — May 1, 2018).

Proposition 68 is another bond measure and today’s subject. It was Senator Kevin de Leon who asked me to write the ballot argument in opposition (see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Proposition 68 — March 23, 2018).

I decided to provide the largest unrestricted net deficits for the states, based on the information I had at the time. I also provided the updated per capita unrestricted net positions recently (see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2017 State Per Capita UNPs — April 2, 2018).

But, to make things more visual, here is the history of California’s unrestricted net position over the past nearly two decades:

Governor Wilson left a nice “surplus,” the last real “surplus” this state has seen. The state jumped into the red in 2002, under Gov. Gray Davis, who was recalled in 2003, largely for mismanaging the state’s finances through the energy crisis and pension spiking. Then the unrestricted net position kept getting worse under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as he endured the Great Recession with little success. He also abandoned pension reform efforts. Yet today he tediously keeps lecturing other Republicans about “moderation,” even as we try to clean up the mess he left behind.

With the requirement that unfunded pension liabilities be added to municipality balance sheets, California experienced another big jump in 2015. With the unfunded retiree medical, which will be added to municipality balance sheets next year, California is upside down by a quarter trillion dollars!

The last thing the Golden State needs is another debt. It should be focused on reducing its liabilities, not increasing them.

Our state is number one in another wrong category: unrestricted net position. How does it compare? Here are the 50 states in numerical order, from worst to best audited balance sheets:

Rank State UNP (Thousands) Year of CAFR
1 California $(169,499,683) 2017
2 Illinois $(161,239,415) 2017
3 New Jersey $(148,863,714) 2017
4 Massachusetts $ (63,992,915) 2017
5 Connecticut $ (52,826,131) 2017
6 New York $ (45,599,000) 2017
7 Kentucky $ (40,157,358) 2017
8 Maryland $ (27,010,946) 2017
9 Texas $ (25,170,339) 2017
10 Pennsylvania $ (21,275,848) 2017
11 Florida $ (12,401,193) 2017
12 Louisiana $ (11,949,852) 2017
13 Ohio $ (10,571,925) 2017
14 Michigan $ (9,848,197) 2017
15 Wisconsin $ (8,361,432) 2017
16 Colorado $ (8,359,538) 2017
17 Hawaii $ (7,996,567) 2017
18 Alabama $ (7,578,278) 2016
19 Mississippi $ (6,058,425) 2017
20 Missouri $ (5,787,207) 2017
21 Virginia $ (5,344,284) 2017
22 Arizona $ (5,341,848) 2017
23 Indiana $ (5,319,406) 2017
24 Georgia $ (5,210,957) 2017
25 Minnesota $ (5,029,153) 2017
26 Rhose Island $ (4,581,514) 2017
27 West Virginia $ (4,455,964) 2017
28 Delaware $ (3,622,572) 2017
29 South Carolina $ (3,497,642) 2017
30 Washington $ (3,376,575) 2017
31 Kansas $ (3,205,914) 2017
32 Oregon $ (2,482,259) 2017
33 Vermont $ (2,263,168) 2017
34 Arkansas $ (2,160,882) 2017
35 Maine $ (1,885,023) 2017
36 New Hampshire $ (1,683,141) 2017
37 Nevada $ (1,580,030) 2017
38 Iowa $ (999,603) 2017
39 Montana $ (971,795) 2017
40 New Mexico $ (326,978) 2016
41 South Dakota $ 267,296 2017
42 Nebraska $ 550,525 2017
43 Utah $ 819,880 2017
44 Idaho $ 1,146,468 2017
45 Oklahoma $ 1,484,206 2017
46 North Carolina $ 1,822,821 2017
47 Tennessee $ 2,736,079 2017
48 Wyoming $ 4,518,976 2017
49 North Dakota $ 5,989,501 2017
50 Alaska $ 14,558,125 2017

You know I’m singing off the right song sheet when the LA Times Editorial Board has a support position for Proposition 68.

The Associated Press has published an article on this subject and it is the first piece below, found in The Seattle Times and The Modesto Bee.

The publisher of the Orange County Breeze provides her endorsement for a “no” vote on this measure in the second piece below.

I am fully aware that bond measures pass nearly 90 percent of the time in this state. The majority of voters live with a credit card mentality. I also understand that California’s population continues to grow, so future residents can share in the repayment efforts.

But, the truth be told, internal growth is slowing down and this state is experiencing a net out migration of its residents to other states. If growth is stabilizing, then Sacramento is making a huge mistake with the issuance of more debt. Bondholders are never stiffed, so currently budgeted programs will be contracted and/or taxes will be raised should the economy level out or decline.


Ballot measure aims to preserve Salton Sea, help air quality


The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A project to protect Californians who live near the Salton Sea from deteriorating air quality could sink or swim based on the outcome of a June ballot measure.

Proposition 68 would allow the state to borrow $4 billion through bonds to fund parks and environmental protection projects, including $200 million for a plan to preserve the rapidly shrinking Salton Sea.

California’s largest lake has been evaporating since San Diego’s regional water agency stopped sending it water this year. Falling water levels increase the lake’s salinity and expose thousands of acres of dusty lakebed, which wind sweeps into nearby farming communities. The dust worsens air quality in the Imperial Valley, where childhood asthma rates are already among the highest in the state.

“It is an environmental time bomb that is ticking,” said state Sen. Kevin de Leon, who authored the bill to place the measure on the ballot. “This is a down payment to begin the process of restoring and revitalizing the Salton Sea.”

The measure would also fund parks in underserved parts of the state and projects to protect against flooding and to clean up water supplies. There are four other propositions on the June 5 primary ballot, including state constitutional amendments about how to spend money from the state’s recent gas tax increase and cap-and-trade fees.

Flooding created the Salton Sea after the Colorado breached a dike in 1905. It sits about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. It is home to hundreds of bird species including pelicans and cormorants, but rising salinity and pollution have depleted populations of fish and the birds that eat them.

The conservation project would build ponds and channels or pipelines around the edges of the lake to control dust and create bird habitats. The project’s first phase has $80 million of the roughly $410 million needed.

The $200 million from the bond measure “would be a healthy additional dose of funding to build these projects and the benefits could be quite large,” said Pacific Institute researcher Michael Cohen, who studies the Salton Sea.

Proposition 68 would authorize general obligation bonds, which must be repaid with interest over time.

State Sen. John Moorlach said the state shouldn’t add more bond debt.

“There is already too much debt on the books in California,” said Moorlach, a Costa Mesa Republican. “A bond means that a tax is coming.”

The state currently spends a little less than 5 percent of its general operating budget on debt. The Legislative Analyst’s Office predicts that if Proposition 68 passes, annual spending on debt could remain below 5 percent through 2025.

Proponents argue the state isn’t overly burdened with debt and that Proposition 68 would fund vital projects.

The ballot measure would also provide $725 million to build parks in underserved neighborhoods. A similar bond measure in 2006 also promised to build parks, but more than a decade later about a fifth of those parks still aren’t finished.

Twenty-eight neighborhood park projects funded by the 2006 measure remain in progress, two of which are still in the planning phase, according to data from the California Natural Resources Agency.

De Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, said he hopes the lessons learned from implementing the 2006 bond measure will ensure parks are built more efficiently if Proposition 68 passes.

“We want to make sure that the dollars go out the door sooner rather than later because our children can’t wait longer to have access to Mother Nature, nor should they,” de Leon said. “I have great confidence that that will happen.”

June 5, 2018 primary election: Proposition 68


Proposition 68 was put on the ballot by the California State Legislature — meaning that the State Legislators didn’t feel like doing their job, or were scared to do their job. That’s a black mark against it.

It began its life as SB 5, sponsored by Kevin De León. He represents the 24th State Senate District and served as the State Senate President pro tempore from Oct. 15, 2014, to Mar. 21, 2018. He is currently running to unseat Dianne Feinstein as one of two Congressional Senators. Feinstein is currently California’s senior United States Senator. Our junior senator is Kamala Harris, who refused to defend Proposition 8 at the Supreme Court when she was California’s Attorney General.

Proposition 68’s official summary:

Authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for: parks, natural resources protection, climate adaptation, water quality and supply, and flood protection. Fiscal Impact: Increased state bond repayment costs averaging $200 million annually over 40 years. Local government savings for natural resources-related projects, likely averaging several tens of millions of dollars annually over the next few decades.

All you need to know about general obligation bonds is that they represent another form of taxation — a prolonged and exquisite torture over forty years to repay them!

If Californians want to spend money on parks, natural resources protection, climate adaptation, water quality and supply, and flood protection — all fine common goods to spend the common treasury on — the spending should appear as current expenses in the budget that the governor and legislature cooperatively craft each year.

I see that I have good company in opposing Proposition 68. California State Senator John Moorlach continues to be a solitary voice, crying in the wilderness, against spending what ya ain’t got. Go, Big John! (Senator Moorlach is about two feet taller than I am.)

I will vote no on this.

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

Also follow me on Facebook & Twitter @SenatorMoorlach

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Proposition 68 — March 23, 2018

The pace continues. My UPDATE for March 18th was picked up by the Daily Pilot and can be seen at and MOORLACH UPDATE — Funding OC’s Homelessness — March 18, 2018. For a more detailed explanation of these recent events, listen to my upcoming podcast on Monday, March 26.

The June Primary is on the horizon. For the second time, I’ve been asked to be a signatory for the opposing argument for a statewide ballot measure. The first time was for Proposition 71 in 2004 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — I Told You So! — August 26, 2017).

Because I argued and voted against Senate Bill 5, Senator Kevin de Leon requested that I write the opposition argument to Proposition 68. I gladly accepted this honor, as well as writing a rebuttal to the argument for this bond measure. For a preview of your June Primary Voter Pamphlet, go to

In the Pamphlet, here is how I’m introduced in the opening summary pages:

CON I’m not here to tell you that addressing drought, water, parks, climate, coastal protection, and outdoor access is wrong. Borrowing for them is wrong. California has enough debt. It has the worst balance sheet of all 50 states. The last thing the State of California needs is more debt!

My contributions are provided as the second piece below, along with a bonus opposition argument.

The Times of San Diego starts the discussion on this ballot measure in the first piece below.

Now that we’re on the subject that pertains to campaign season, hence the qualifier in my banner above, the Daily Pilot follows up with another column on the 48th Congressional race. My UPDATE was mentioned (see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — OC Congressional Races — March 17, 2018). It’s the third piece below.

San Diego County Water Board Endorses $4 Billion State Bond Measure


The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors voted Thursday to endorse Proposition 68, a $4 billion state bond measure on the June 5 ballot for parks, natural resources protection, climate adaptation, water quality and supply and flood protection.

Approval of the measure would mean $12 million for the San Diego River Conservancy and $200 million to Salton Sea restoration activities.

“Robust Salton Sea funding in this bond measure is significant for San Diego County because it supports agreements that generate substantial water supplies for our region,” said Mark Muir, chair of the water authority’s board. “The bond would allow our region to compete for other funds to further enhance water supply reliability and local watersheds.”

In November, the state Water Resources Control Board revised a 2002 order that approved a transfer between the water authority and the Imperial Irrigation District providing 100,000 acre-feet of water for San Diego County last year.

The San Diego County Water Authority would not directly receive any bond money, officials said.

The measure is opposed by Sen. John M.W. Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, because it would add to the state’s debt burden which would keep the state from funding other services.

“When will Sacramento’s Legislature realize that we have poor infrastructure because it has not been a good steward of its financial resources?” Moorlach wrote in the rebuttal to the argument in favor of Proposition 68 in the Official Voter Information Guide.

“Debt is an indication of improper spending habits and inappropriate financial decisions.”


Can we share a rather sad fact with you? California has the largest unrestricted net deficit of all the 50 states in the nation!

Here are the rankings of the eleven worst managed states and their unrestricted net deficits for the year ending 2016 (California’s June 30, 2017 audited financial statements were not completed before the preparation of this report in mid-February):

1. California $169 billion
2. Illinois 150 billion
3. New Jersey 137 billion
4. Massachusetts 59 billion
5. Connecticut 51 billion
6. New York 41 billion
7. Kentucky 38 billion
8. Maryland 26 billion
9. Texas 20 billion
10. Pennsylvania 19 billion
11. Louisiana 12 billion

Do you really want to add to the debt burden of this state?
Do you know that the annual payments for principal and interest on this bond will squeeze out other services that Sacramento should be providing? Like helping the homeless and assisting the mentally ill?

When will Sacramento’s legislature realize that we have poor infrastructure because it has not been a good steward of its financial resources. Debt is an indication of improper spending habits and inappropriate financial decisions. Stop this madness and vote “NO” on Proposition 68.

State Senator – 37th District


Don’t be fooled by Proposition 68. The proposition promises to protect and improve California’s parks. The truth is it doesn’t.

First, of the $4 billion dollar bond, only $1.3 billion is actually dedicated to improving parks. A lot of the remaining money is given to politicians to spend on their pet projects.

Second, the money is not distributed fairly and equally across the state. Many of our residents in inland and rural California will not see any Prop. 68 park bond money spent to fix and improve their local state parks. This is wrong.

Every Californian should have their local park improved, not just the few who live near parks of powerful politicians.

Third, estimates are that state parks require $1.2 billion dollars for deferred maintenance. Yet, Prop. 68 allocates only a small amount of money for this essential task.

Finally, the Department of Parks and Recreation can’t be trusted with the money. In 2012, the department threatened to close 70 parks, saying it didn’t have the money to keep them open. This was false. An audit discovered the department did have the money, but was hiding it from the public. Until the department is reformed, we can’t trust it to spend the money wisely and fairly.

We need to protect and improve our state parks, but Prop. 68 is the wrong way to do that. Vote No and make the State Legislature really fix the parks for all Californians.

ANDREA SEASTRAND, President Central Coast Taxpayers Association

JON COUPAL, President Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Isn’t it wonderful how many great projects that California can build? I’m not here to tell you that addressing drought, water, parks, climate, coastal protection, and outdoor access is wrong.

What I want to tell you is that borrowing for them is wrong.

California has enough debt. In fact, it has the worst balance sheet of all 50 states. Its unrestricted net deficit is a quarter trillion dollars! The last thing the State of California needs is more debt!

Bond measures are deceptive. You think you’re voting for something good. But, it will take approximately $8 billion to pay off the $4 billion of borrowed funds. That means you can expect a tax increase. And your children can expect a tax increase. And your grandchildren can expect a tax increase. Why? The $225 million a year must be paid. With a tight annual budget, where else is this money supposed to come from?

The state’s pension plan contributions are rising. The retiree medical unfunded liability has just gone up $15 billion to $91.5 billion. The state’s borrowed debt for schools ($500 million per year) and, possibly, veterans ($225 million) and affordable housing ($169 million) are squeezing out other programs. Minimum wage increases alone will add $4 billion per year to the state’s budget.

This will have to be paid for. And you will be asked to raise your taxes. California is not reducing its debt. Don’t be a part of this problem. Vote “No” on Proposition 68.

Very truly yours,

37th Senate District

Republicans are tripping over each other in the 48th Congressional District race


Last week I wrote about former Orange County Republican Chairman Scott Baugh jumping into the 48th Congressional District race, challenging his longtime friend and incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa).

This didn’t sit well with the O.C. Republican Party since Baugh dared to not abide by a party maxim: “Thou shall not run against an incumbent Republican.”

He even received a letter from OC Republican Party Chairman Ken Whitaker and other heavy hitters, chastising him for his actions.

One name on that letter: California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte.

Only problem is no one informed Brulte.

Brulte wrote to me saying, “I did not sign the letter. It was never sent to me, and no one asked me to sign.”

Guess these guys need to get their act together if they plan on sending letters to other protocol breakers — Republican Supervisor Todd Spitzer’s running against incumbent District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, also a Republican, as just one example.

And what about candidates running in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach? Republicans in these races challenge each other all the time.

Considering the Republican Central Committee has a history of endorsing candidates in these nonpartisan council races — pitting Republican against Republican — I’m confused as to why party panties are in a bunch about Baugh running against Rohrabacher.

Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) shared his thoughts about all of this in his email blast.

“The congressman has stated he was going to retire in two years so many times in the past that he’s been dishonest and abusive to those that are ready to get some real work done in D.C.,” Moorlach wrote.

Moorlach talked to Baugh.

“I told him that if he decided to run anyway, I would support him,” and went on to explain that though he’s supported Rohrabacher’s past runs, he won’t this time.

Moorlach says that 30 years later he “cannot recognize any major committee chairmanships or legislative accomplishments by our congressman.”

Though this is a rare move for Moorlach, he feels, “A protocol should not be an umbrella that protects mediocrity and stagnation. The Republican Party deserves better. And, in my opinion, Dana has made severe missteps of late, and I am one who really wants to improve the brand.”

So Moorlach’s sticking to his political moral compass — not the party line.

But is Baugh’s entry some kind of twisted political conspiracy to make sure the two top vote-getters in the open primary are Republicans, as one reader wrote after my column posted last week?

“Arrangements don’t involve threats, intimidation tactics and letters dropped off at doorsteps in the dark of night,” Baugh says. “There are very real and legitimate differences of opinion as to whether a party protocol should try to silence an alternative choice for the voters when the incumbent has been in the same office for 30 years.”

“How many years are too long?” he asks. “I don’t know the magic number, but 30 years seems to be considerably past that number.”

Though the Rohrabacher-Baugh match-up is an explosive upset for their county party, and there are a total of five Republicans in the race, Democrats are pretty messy too.

With far too many candidates — eight at last count — for any one to be viable, it seems their county party can’t reign in loose cannons either.

This is political theater at its best and too good to pass up. So for the first time the Feet to the Fire Forum gang will tackle a congressional race at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Orange Coast College Robert B Moore Theater. We’ll speak with the two 48th Congressional race primary winners.

Initially, we were planning for May 30, before the June primary, but with so many Democrats, Republicans and at least one independent candidates, not to mention the media panelists, we’d have almost 16 to 18 people on stage. That isn’t feasible.

So we’ve decided to wait until after the primary for a 60-minute chat with the top-two candidates, which could very well be Rohrabacher and Baugh, or one of them and a Democrat.

Baugh says he welcomes facing any challenger on F2F — if he’s a primary pick.

There are other live forums. On Sept. 19 the F2F conversation will be dedicated to Costa Mesa. The 90-minute debate will be split into two parts — the first devoted to council candidates, the second to the mayoral race.

We’ll turn our attention to the Newport council race Sept. 20.

All forums will be taped for re-broadcast on CMTV, NBTV, YouTube and streamed live. I’ll have more information as production meetings progress.

And we’re also doing Feet to the Fire podcasts. Check out the latest at

BARBARA VENEZIA is an opinion columnist writing political and social commentary since 2007. She can be reached at bvontv1

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

Also follow me on Facebook & Twitter @SenatorMoorlach

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — OC Congressional Races — March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I was appointed to serve as the Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector on March 17, 1995. I was elected to serve in the State Legislature for the 37th Senate District on March 17, 2015. So, let’s start the discussion on those willing to endure the process to serve the public.

Campaign season officially opened at 5 p.m. on March 9th for most of the races on the ballot. March 9th was the last day for a candidate to file to be officially recognized on the Primary ballot, unless the incumbent chooses to not rerun, thus giving a five-day extension. As this deadline was March 14th, what is affectionately known as “silly season,” is now upon us.

With campaigns come endorsements. My grid for making endorsements is rather simple. First, I usually stay out of races where two friends are running against each other, unless I have a long-time and close relationship with one of them. Second, as a member of the California Republican Party, the bylaws require that I only endorse Republicans, which I stick to rare exceptions in nonpartisan contests. And thirdly, in races with two or more Republicans, tradition dictates that I support the incumbent, with even rarer exceptions.

Today’s topic is the Orange County Congressional races. I’ll try to address the five ballot measures in a future UPDATE, as I am a signatory in opposition to two of the propositions, Propositions 68 and 69, something I haven’t participated in since Proposition 71 in 2004.

The Voice of OC provides a broad and in depth overview of all of the races in the first piece below. Note: It was released on March 12th.

The Laguna Beach Indy takes a closer look at the 48th Congressional District in the second piece below. When Scott Baugh contacted me, I reminded him of the protocol to not contest sitting incumbents. But, I was not there to tell him that Congressman Rohrabacher was a better candidate.

And the Daily Pilot provides an editorial perspective in the third piece below. The Congressman has stated he was going to retire in two years so many times in the past that he’s been dishonest and abusive to those that are ready to get some real work done in D.C.

After I reminded Scott Baugh of the Party’s protocol, I told him that if he decided to run anyway, I would support him.

I was there when Dana won in 1988. I oversaw the volunteer efforts of his campaign in 1992, finding volunteers to walk every precinct in Costa Mesa on his behalf. It was an effort that had a big impact on my life. But, 30 years later and that I cannot recognize any major committee chairmanships or legislative accomplishments by our Congressman is a tragedy. Especially from a District overloaded with talent. So, this is a very rare exception for me. A protocol should not be an umbrella that protects mediocrity and stagnation. The Republican Party deserves better. And, in my opinion, Dana has made severe missteps of late and I am one who really wants to improve the brand.

Candidates for OC’s Four Contested Congressional Seats




The crowded field of candidates running for four Orange County Congressional seats narrowed slightly Friday, as several candidates failed to file paperwork by the 5 p.m. deadline for their names to appear on the June 5 primary election ballot.

Democrats nationwide are targeting the four Orange County Republican strongholds, the 39th, 45th, 48th and 49th Congressional districts, in a campaign to secure 24 seats across the country that would give them a majority in the House of Representatives. They consider at least some of the four Orange County GOP-held seats vulnerable because for the first time in 80 years, the four districts voted for a Democrat, Hilary Clinton, in the 2016 presidential election.

Democrats are focused on two districts where longtime incumbents, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) of the 39th district and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) of the 49th district, aren’t running for re-election. Because the incumbents aren’t running, the deadline for filing in those two districts is Wednesday, March 14.

Orange County Democratic leaders have tried in recent weeks to narrow the field of candidates in order to avoid a scenario in June where Democratic voters split their power among several candidates, allowing two Republican candidates to receive the majority of votes and move onto the November general election. California has a “top two” primary where the two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary, regardless of their political party, face off in November.

But few candidates have stepped aside. In the 39th District for example, so far 19 candidates have filed, including 10 Democrats and seven Republicans.

The state Democratic Convention last month resulted in only two endorsements out of the four Congressional Districts because delegates from the 39th and 49th districts couldn’t decide who to recommend.

And there are no endorsements from state Republicans yet because their convention isn’t until the weekend of May 4.

39th Congressional District

There could be over 19 candidates will be on the June 5 primary ballot for voters in the 39th district, including nine Democrats. After 25-year Republican Congressman Royce announced in January he wouldn’t seek re-election, six Republicans entered the race. There also is one candidate registered as having no party preference and one from the American Independent Party.

More candidates could file by the extended 5 p.m. Wednesday deadline.

The 39th district includes most of north Orange County, including parts of Buena Park, Placentia and Anaheim Hills and contains all of Yorba Linda, Brea, La Habra and Fullerton. It also includes parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Candidate filing data came from the registrars of voters those three counties but the Secretary of State will compile the official list of candidates after March 14.

Democratic candidate Andy Thorburn raised the most money last year at $2.5 million, including $2 million of his own money, but former one-term Republican Assemblywoman Young Kim gathered the most endorsements including Royce, whom Kim worked for before she was elected to the State Assembly in 2014.

Kim also is endorsed by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and 2nd District Supervisor Michelle Steel. Seven Republican Assemblymembers have endorsed her as have numerous city council members from communities in and outside the 39th district.

Republican county Supervisor Shawn Nelson, another 39th district candidate, has been endorsed by five California Republican officeholders including Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, Assemblyman Phillip Chen of Diamond Bar, State Senator John Moorlach of Costa Mesa, Orange County 1st District Supervisor Andrew Do and San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman.

The Federal Elections Commission website has no campaign finance data for Nelson, Kim and the other Republicans who entered the race earlier this year. The next quarterly filing date for campaign finance is March 31.

Thorburn has garnered endorsements from some Democrats including Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles.

Like Thorburn, Democratic challenger Gil Cisneros gave himself a little over $1.3 million, and raised $1.6 million last year. But unlike other high fundraising Democratic candidates, Cisneros is endorsed by several Democratic state and federal elected officials: eight members of Congress, including Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Linda Sanchez of Whittier; and three Assembly members, including Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton.

While the district spans three counties and has 361,000 registered voters, the bulk of voters are in Orange County at 223,000, according to a January voter registration report from the Secretary of State.

Republicans still hold a slight edge in the district with 35.5 percent of voters, with Democrats close behind with 34 percent. Voters with no party preference total 26 percent.

Election analysis website Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball lists the 39th as a toss up while another handicapper site, The Cook Political Report, lists the district leaning Democratic.

45th Congressional District

There are five challengers looking to unseat Rep. Mimi Walters in the southeast Orange County district, including five Democrats and one no party preference candidate. Walters raised the most money last year with $1.6 million, over half of it from a joint fundraising committee, Mimi Walters Victory Fund, which is used by other political action committees to fundraise and spend on events. Walters has been in office for three years.

So far, the closest anybody’s gotten to Walter’s war chest is Democrat Brian Forde, who raised $873,000. Around $100,000 of that was directed to his campaign through San Francisco-based Coinbase, a digital currency bank, but Forde’s web site doesn’t list any endorsements.

Katie Porter, a Democrat, is just behind Forde with $741,000 raised. She’s been able to score some high-level endorsements, including Democratic U.S. Senators Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Democrat Dave Min raised $678,000 last year. Min won the state Democratic party endorsement in late February, which means he’ll likely be able to increase his campaign fundraising ability. He’s been endorsed by Quirk-Silva and her husband, Fullerton Councilman Jesus Silva.

48th Congressional District

Voters in the 48th district will have 16 names on their primary ballot, including incumbent Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher has been in Congress for nearly 30 years. He’s going up against five other Republicans, including former state Assembly Republican leader Scott Baugh.

Rohrabacher raised nearly $1.1 million last year, with a sizeable chunk coming from various political action committees like the California Victory Fund, a political action committee that doesn’t have any financial information on the FEC website yet.

Meanwhile, Democratic challenger Harley Rouda Jr. also raised about $1.3 million last year. He self-funded most of his war chest at nearly $750,000. ActBlue, a Democratic fundraising organization, also has been giving to Rouda’s campaign.

Rouda is endorsed by former state Attorney General Bill Lockyer and state Senator Henry Stern of Canoga Park.

While Baugh didn’t raise any money last year, he enters the race with $545,000 in campaign finances left over from 2016 when he was setting up a run. He just entered the race last week.

Democrat Hans Keirstead raised $872,000 last year and, like Rouda, Keirstead also is self-funded, but much less at about $210,000. He’s also received numerous contributions from ActBlue. The state Democratic Party endorsed Keirstead at its convention last month. Keirstead also has endorsements from two Congressmen and State Senator Bill Dodd of Napa.

The district spans the coastal cities of Orange County from Seal Beach to Laguna Niguel and stretches east into parts of Westminster and Garden Grove. It also includes Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Newport Beach, Aliso Viejo and Laguna Beach.

Rohrabacher, who has been a member of Congress since 1989, won reelection in 2016 with a nearly 17-point margin over his opponent. But this year, the Cook Report and Crystal Ball classified the district as a toss up.

The district is home to 400,000 voters and the Republicans hold over 40 percent of the registered voters. Democrats are at just under 30 percent of voters, while the no preference voters make up just over a quarter of the district.

Like the rest of the districts, about half of voters turned out for the 2016 primaries, a presidential election year, up from about a quarter on average in primaries before that. In 2014, the turnout was just under 25 percent.

49th Congressional District

The 49th could have least 10 candidates heading into the primary election, after the district’s Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of Vista said in January he won’t seek reelection. Most of the district is in San Diego County but it also includes south Orange County.

There are four Republicans running for Issa’s seat, four Democrats, one Peace and Freedom candidate and one candidate from the K-9 party. The candidate filing data was pulled from Orange County and San Diego County registrars of voters. San Diego’s list doesn’t list anyone as qualified for ballot, even the candidates who’ve filed their nomination papers. The registrar’s website calls it the “unofficial list” of candidates.

Like the 39th district, the deadline to file candidacy papers has been extended to March 14 because of Issa’s announcement. The Secretary of State will make an official candidate list after that.

Issa, whose first term was in 2001, won reelection in 2016 by less than a percentage point against Democratic challenger Doug Applegate. Applegate, a retired Marine colonel, is running again this election.

Democratic challenger Sara Jacobs raised the most money last year with $1.3 million. She self-funded over $1 million of that amount. She’s received endorsements from three members of Congress.

On Jacobs’ heels is Democrat Mike Levin, who managed to raise $1.2 million, mostly through individual contributions and money from ActBlue. He’s received endorsements from eight Congress members including Adam Schiff of Burbank, two state Senators and three Assembly members.

Democrat Paul Kerr isn’t far behind with just over $1 million in his war chest. He self-funded the bulk of that at around $700,000.

Meanwhile, Applegate is behind at $680,000. He’s been endorsed by Assemblyman Tom Daly of Anaheim and former Orange County Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.

Republican candidates don’t have any campaign finance data available yet from the FEC website.

Applegate isn’t the only former Marine in the 49th District race, which encompasses Marine Corps Camp Pendleton in north San Diego County.

GOP Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Oceanside, also a retired Marine colonel, is running. While there’s no campaign finance data available for his campaign yet, he’s started gathering endorsements from various city council members in San Diego county.

Another GOP elected official, Board of Equalization Chairwoman Diane Harkey, entered the race after Issa’s announcement and has garnered an endorsement from 45th District Congresswoman Walters. Additionally, Orange County Supervisors Do, Michelle Steel and Lisa Bartlett are backing Harkey, as is Sheriff Hutchens.

The district touches the most southern cities in the county, including San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point and San Clemente. The 49th also stretches down the west side of San Diego county, ending before La Jolla.

The 49th district is home to 380,000 registered voters in Orange and San Diego counties. Republicans still hold the majority at 37 percent, while Democrats are at 31 percent. Like the other districts, the no preference voters make up just over a quarter of registered voters.

The Cook Report and the Crystal Ball classify the district as leaning Democratic.

GOP Insider Enters Congressional Race

By : Andrea Adelson

Eighteen people qualified as June primary candidates in the congressional race for District 48 along Orange County’s coastal communities, including the last-minute entry of former Orange County GOP chair Scott Baugh.

Baugh, who served five years in the state Assembly 18 years ago, said his decision to challenge fellow Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher was partly compelled by the urging of co-workers, neighbors and supporters.

“This chorus of people encouraged me to run because Dana has said he wants to retire and I think it shows in where he places his current priorities,” Baugh said in an interview Wednesday, a week after he turned in his candidacy papers to the Orange County Registrar.

Scott Baugh

Scott Baugh

Rohrabacher, of Costa Mesa and currently serving his 15th term, is “preoccupied with Putin, Assange and marijuana,” said Baugh. “The chorus I’m hearing is that 30 years is enough.”

California’s “jungle” primary catapults the top two vote getters onto the November ballot, regardless of party affiliation. Republicans hold 40 percent of the district’s registration to 30 percent each among Democrats and no party preference voters.

Some party insiders have expressed concern that eight or more Democratic contenders in District 48 will splinter support and jeopardize the chances that any one of them will succeed in the primary. Now the county GOP, whose state party followed protocol by endorsing the incumbent, is in a similar situation with five Republicans on the June primary ballot.

“The fact that Scott Baugh is moving forward regardless of the party endorsement shows there is now division within the Republican party,” said Omar Siddiqui, 50, of Costa Mesa, one of the Democratic rivals in the contest. “Anything is possible; the key thing is to get out the vote. The no-party preference vote can make a world of difference.”

Dan Walters, in a post on the political newsletter Calmatters, suggested that Baugh’s candidacy exploits the lack of discipline among Democrats and the California primary system to block Democrats from reaching the November ballot and thus preserving an embattled seat for Republicans.

“There is a lot of talk here of the two Republicans winning,” said state Sen. John Moorlach, a Republican from Costa Mesa, a friend of Baugh who nevertheless expressed surprise at his candidacy.

District 48 Democratic candidate Michael Kotick, 34, of Laguna Beach, disagrees with that scenario. He thinks Baugh lacks both name recognition outside of party insiders and a campaign infrastructure. “I don’t think this changes the game plan. I think it’s going to be won by who goes door to door and who puts in the work to connect with voters in the district.”

In anticipation of Rohrabacher’s retirement in 2016, Baugh, 55, of Huntington Beach, raised a campaign war chest that stands at $576,000, which now ranks third in the fundraising race among candidates, based on Dec. 31 Federal Election Commission filings.

Democratic challenger Harley Rouda, 56, of Laguna Beach, leads with $834,000, while the incumbent has $713,000 on hand, followed by Siddiqui with $540,000 and Hans Keirstead, also of Laguna, with $490,000. The district spans the coast from Seal Beach to Laguna Beach and includes Garden Grove.

“He’s proven he’s a money raiser,” Moorlach said of Baugh. “That’s impressive.”

As a lawmaker, Baugh developed good relationships with state Assemblyman Bob Hertzberg, now a state senator. “He displayed an ability to work across the aisle,” said Moorlach, but noted that Baugh’s candidacy upends the party protocol ceding deference to incumbents. “This is a rebellion,” Moorlach said.

Baugh denied trying to sabotage the chances of success by a Democrat in the primary in his own bid to unseat Rohrabacher. “That is not my intent,” he said. “This is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made,” he said, citing mutual friendships, his own friendship with the lawmaker and party protocol. “All of those make it really difficult.” Even so, Baugh said, “the time is now to start working on things that matter and I think Dana’s lost that focus.”

Baugh said his decision was also partly shaped by a recently forwarded 1993 article where Rohrabacher voiced his support for term limits. In explaining his position, Rohrabacher said, “you’re actually part of the system here rather than representing your people back home.”

“He’s become precisely what he predicted,” Baugh said.

Rohrabacher did not respond to a request for comment about Baugh’s candidacy. Neither did OC GOP chair Fred Whitaker.

In a statement, Keirstead, who has received the endorsement of the state Democratic party, said “Orange County voters have zero confidence that Donald Trump, Dana Rohrabacher, or Scott Baugh are looking out for them.”

The district is one of several in the county where Trump lost in 2016 but Republican incumbents were re-elected.

About the Author

The author is the editor of the Laguna Beach Independent. Prior to taking the job in 2005, she worked previously as a reporter at five daily newspapers, including the Daily Pilot in Costa Mesa, the Daily News of Los Angeles and the New York Times. Reach her by emailing andrea.

Congressional primary makes rivals of two old Republican friends


A political insider goes rogue, challenges powerful friends and a core principle of his party: Thou shall not run against an incumbent.

An intriguing pitch for a TV pilot, sure, but this drama is actually the new reality facing the Orange County Republican Party.

Republicans have a renegade in the 48th Congressional District race with former O.C. Republican Chairman Scott Baugh challenging incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa.

In 2016 Baugh told me Rohrabacher made it clear to him that he was “looking for a departure in 2016 or 2018.” This prompted Baugh to file a statement of candidacy and start fundraising to the tune of about half a million dollars.

Baugh said he wouldn’t run for the seat unless Rohrabacher retired.

When that didn’t happen, Baugh backed off.

That was until last week, when he pulled papers to run against his pal and challenge his party’s principle.

Was his original strategy not to have a two-year fight with Rohrabacher, but rather a three-month primary battle now?

Baugh chuckles at that suggestion, saying that certainly wasn’t his long-term game plan, and tells me he didn’t make the decision to run lightly.

“We have big issues facing the country — from the debt, dysfunctional heath care, open borders — and we need everyone pulling together, working on solutions,” he says.

Baugh points to his work as party chairman, managing opposing viewpoints and coming to consensus.

“I have a record of reaching across the aisle with the Democrats and solving problems,” he says. “If you’re in public office and not doing that then you’re not doing your job.”

Baugh explains it’s not enough to “vote the right way, but more important to create the voting opportunities with coalition building,” to get things accomplished.

Squarely in Baugh’s corner is state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), who understands his party won’t be happy with him supporting Baugh, but there are bigger issues at stake.

Both Baugh and Moorlach feel Rohrabacher has been in this seat too long, 34 years, accomplishing nothing monumental, and it’s time for a change.

Considering the current fractured state of the party, disenchanted Republican voters might welcome this shake-up, offering someone other than Rohrabacher to support.

Couple that with the fact Baugh and Rohrabacher have been long-time friends (who knows your strengths and weaknesses better than a close friend?), this is going to be an interesting battle.

As party chairman, Baugh was a maverick of political strategy and fundraising, using these skills to support his candidates, including Rohrabacher’s past reelection bids.

He’ll certainly be a force to reckon with.

I wondered how Rohrabacher felt about all of this, but he wasn’t available for comment, according to his press person.

Rohrabacher’s already facing a crowded field of Democratic opponents. If this herd doesn’t thin, they risk splitting the opposing vote, because of California’s open primary, which means the top-two vote-getters face off in the general election.

In this scenario Rohrabacher could win, unless he faces another strong Republican, which Baugh is.

The county party isn’t happy with the prospect of this Clash of the Republican Titans.

On March 12, OCGOP Chairman Fred Whitaker sent out an email statement saying he’s “fielded dozens, if not a hundred emails and phone calls, asking why the Republican Party would allow Scott Baugh’s challenge to Congressman Rohrabacher in the 48th Congressional District.”

“Let me reiterate, we are a republic, not a dictatorship,” he wrote. “We can persuade, but we cannot prevent, nor should we want anyone to have that type of power. Party leadership actively communicated with Scott Baugh and others that challenging an endorsed Republican incumbent in good standing would not be well held.”

Whitaker acknowledges he holds the chairmanship in part because of Baugh.

“I would not be chairman, but for him asking me to run to succeed him,” he says. “I consider Scott to be my friend. I hope to work with him for our cause in the future. However, this path he’s taken is pitting Republican against Republican, taking dollars, donors and volunteers from our efforts to fight Democrats.”

Attached to Whitaker’s email notice was the letter sent to Baugh urging him not to run.

“Proceeding on your current path is destructive to the Republican Party of Orange County, which you helped build,” the letter warns. “It is divisive and presents an unnecessary distraction.”

As I read the release and the letter, nowhere did Whitaker call out specific accomplishments of Rohrabacher over the past three decades, but rather hung on to the principle that Republicans shouldn’t challenge incumbents.

​Baugh’s reaction to Whitaker’s letter?

“It was very immature,” and dropped at his doorstep at 10:30 at night, Baugh says.

Baugh questions an attached list of names, including Orange County-area elected officials, supposedly endorsing the letter.

“About half the people either never heard of the letter or called to apologize for the letter,” he says. “I also received several calls from people who were being pressured to sign it but declined. The party has some well-meaning people but they are following dogma that protects all incumbents, even those that have been there for 30 years and should retire. It’s time for a change. My campaign is focused on voters, not back rooms where schemes are hatched.”

Feet to the Fire plans to explore this interesting race, giving all parties an opportunity to face each other, with a candidates forum at 6 p.m. May 30 at the Orange Coast College Robert B. Moore Theater.

BARBARA VENEZIA is an opinion columnist writing political and social commentary since 2007. She can be reached at bvontv1

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

Also follow me on Facebook & Twitter @SenatorMoorlach