Leslie Daigle's Tough Night
It's been more than 30 hours since I posted my sleep-deprived report on the recent Feet To The Fire Forum last Thursday evening at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center. If you really want to, you can read it again HERE.
The local print and online media did a good job of covering the event and provided us with several different versions of what actually happened that night. Mine was only my take on it. Here are some links to some of the stories for your reading pleasure and further edification.
- Joe Serna's Daily Pilot account of the evening HERE.
- Nick Gerda's story in the Voice of OC HERE.
- Sara Hall's coverage in the Newport Beach Independent HERE.
- Ron Winship's opinion in the Orange Juice Blog HERE.
- Barbara Venezia's Orange County Register first-person report HERE.
In my view, the big story of the evening was the poor performance by Newport Beach councilwoman Leslie Daigle. She was clearly the most tense person on the dais right from the beginning. I had high hopes for her in her battle to win the primary election against Allan Mansoor because he makes such an easy target. He brings to the race a record of virtually NO accomplishment during his term in Sacramento representing a different district and also lugs with him the baggage of his 8 years on the Costa Mesa City Council. It should have been easy pickin's for Daigle, but it wasn't.
I knew that there was the potential for fireworks because Daigle has a "history" with a couple of the interrogators - hostess and moderator Barbara Venezia and new Daily Pilot "conservative" columnist Jack Wu. Venezia ran against Daigle for a seat on the Newport Beach City Council several years ago and that race turned nasty when Daigle's camp decided to go after the business her husband had recently sold to his employees. Rather than subject those folks to the unpleasantness Venezia dropped out of the race. That wound, while old, still festers a little.
Wu has been critical of Daigle quite recently in his Daily Pilot column, HERE, and, earlier, as a columnist for the Newport Beach Independent. I expected friction - and Daigle should have as well. Knowing that potential was there, she should have been better prepared to deal with it - but she wasn't. Wu did go after her but Venezia did not.
RUSH FINISHED FIRST
I said in my report that I felt Daigle finished third that night. In my view, newcomer Bob Rush - a freshly-minted Democrat - handled himself the best, appeared to be the least uncomfortable and gave good, crisp answers. Mansoor, in my view, came in second - but well ahead of Daigle.
I'M BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND
Quite frankly, I was disappointed with the results. I was hoping for Daigle to make a good showing. She didn't, and I'm beginning to understand why.
SHE ASKED - I ANSWERED
Immediately after the meeting - within a couple hours - she sent me a short Facebook note wondering what I thought of the forum. I didn't see it until several hours later because I was working in the wee hours of Friday morning trying to get my post published. When I finally did see her message I simply replied with a link to what I wrote.
Later she replied with this message: "One of the journalists told me about the kool-aid you have now clearly drank.", which was a curious response to a guy she'd been courting for support for several months.
A couple hours later, when I finally woke up, I saw that comment and replied to her with this observation: "Really? You're blaming ME for last night? I sat, watched and listened like everyone else and I was far from alone in the view that, if scored on performance, you would have finished third. In my opinion, if you're going to be on the ballot in November you're going to have to really pick up your game." That's what I thought then, and still do now.
BLAMING EVERYTHING BUT HERSELF
A few hours later she replied with this: "It was low turnout. People perceive the forum as the jerry springer show." And, since I didn't reply immediately to that one, four hours later - in the middle of the night - she sent this message to me: "The promoter lost credibility....invites participates to be interviewed by journalists then tries to spice it up with a discredited opinion columnist ("not a journalist")... its leaked the theme is make bob rush look viable...embarrassingly low turnout.... forum is jerry springer cuz' the format is a joke...promoter is seething...gives syncophant GW a pre-packaged storyline.. promoter does a wicked rant which is viewed as she harbors bitterness."
MY VIEW BACK TO HER
Around noon Friday I sent her this message: "Leslie, did you actually read those last two entries before you posted them? I thought 150 people was a pretty good turnout for this race. Most of the folks I spoke with who attended liked the spirited discussions. Yes, they ganged up on you, but YOU made that possible with your evasive answers and poor preparation.
NOBODY gave me any kind of a storyline, pre-packaged or otherwise. I came, sat, watched, listened and wrote my views of the night. Quite frankly, I was VERY disappointed that you didn't do better against Mansoor - he's an easy target.
I was ready and eager to support your candidacy and, even after the forum, still had hope that you could elevate your game. However, this exchange here on Facebook has changed my mind. If this is your typical reaction when faced with adversity, then you're really not the kind of person I want to see in Sacramento. "
BACK PLACING BLAME THIS MORNING
This morning she sent the following message to me: "The few people who attended have created the buzz that few people attended (the room was half empty chairs). The forum crashed this year because of its poor format and the inclusion of non pro journalists."
PUTTING THE BALL BACK IN HER COURT AGAIN
I saw it and fired this one back to her: "Leslie, before you ever contacted me I'd heard mutterings about your "style", but I was more than willing to listen to you and, as you know, have treated your contacts with respect and decorum. I WANTED you to be a good, strong candidate to replace Mansoor. Sadly, this episode has affirmed those things I'd heard about you.
You blame your poor performance on sparse attendance. It wasn't sparse and it wouldn't have made any difference. You would have bombed whether the room was packed to the rafters or was empty - it wasn't the room, it was YOU!
I acknowledge that you had folks up on the stage with you who arrived that night with preconceptions about you. That's life, kiddo. Knowing the players, you should have been even BETTER prepared for the questions. You were NOT.
I don't know what to expect at the next forum, but I'm planning to be there. I hope you do better with pre-packaged questions to which you can read answers.
Stop blaming everyone and everything except yourself for your miserable performance. "
HER LAST REPLY - AN ECHO
A couple minutes ago - early afternoon Saturday, she sent me this final comment. As you can see, it's only an echo of what she said before. "Geoff, you have been cordial towards me. You are hyping a forum that wasn't professionally conducted. Attendance was low because people perceive it to be Jerry Springer-like. That happens when you have opinion columnists on stage instead of pro journalists. Then a promoter who lashes out at candidates for talking too long but has no set rules on time allowance. Geez."
THAT'S WHERE WE ARE NOW...
That's where we stand at this point and, under the circumstances, I doubt I'll hear much more from her. And, you're probably wondering why I gave you the text, verbatim. I could have just paraphrased our exchange for brevity, but I thought the tone of her messages - and mine, too, for that matter - was important. Clearly, she's not facing the reality that it was HER bad performance Thursday night - not the venue, the interrogators or the crowd - that caused her to have such a poor showing. It's REALLY going to take some convincing for me to support her candidacy now.
Quite frankly, this leaves me with a dilemma. I know I'm not going to vote for Allan Mansoor. I know too much about him as a council member in Costa Mesa and his track record in Sacramento is one of abject failure.
WHO IS BOB RUSH?
So, I'm going to get to know Bob Rush a little better and see how that goes. He may have been right on target with his response to a question Tom Johnson posed to the panel, asking what it will take to get effective representation for the 74th Assembly District in Sacramento. Rush blurted out, "Elect a Democrat". As a life-long Republican - I've been voting for a half-century - I can't remember EVER voting for a Democrat in a partisan race. Today I find myself wondering if a moderate Democrat, working with the Democrat majority in the Assembly, might not provide our district with more effective representation than sending a lock-step lemming, hard-line, ineffective Republican back up there.
WHY WASTE A "GOOD REPUBLICAN" IN SACRAMENTO?
In fact, because ANY Republican representing the 74th Assembly District will be fighting an uphill battle dealing with the overwhelming Democrat majority, maybe it's not such a bad idea to have an incompetent but malleable Republican sitting up there. I mean, why waste a "good Republican" in that seat? Our recent history shows that they are hard enough to find in the first place. In fact, now that I think about it a little more, maybe that's what Scott Baugh and his cronies in the OC GOP had in mind when they supported Mansoor for his current Assembly seat and are supporting him for this one.