Tuesday, May 29, 2012

74th Assembly District - My Decision

Today is the day I'll complete my absentee ballot for the June 5th primary election.  It will be in the mail Tuesday.  As always, part of it is cause for consternation.  For example, we have twenty-five (25) candidates for the United States Senate!  Who in the world has the time, or inclination, to try to sort through all those folks to make an informed decision?  Even if you try to vote a straight party line, trying to sort out those of your party from the others can make your head hurt.

But that's not the reason for this post.  Nope, today I'm going to tell you who I'm casting my ballot for in the race for the 74th Assembly District, and why.

We've thrashed this issue around on this blog for a couple months.  To refresh your memory, you can read what I wrote about the Feet To The Fire Forum in April, HERE, and Leslie Daigle's reaction to that particular post the next day, HERE.  You can also read what I wrote about the candidate forum in Laguna Beach last Friday night, HERE.  That's the one Daigle decided to avoid, leaving only Allan Mansoor and Bob Rush to face the public and discuss issues.

So, off we go.  Let me preface my comments by saying that I don't ever expect to agree with every candidate for any office on every issue.  While a lovely fantasy, it's not the way the world works.  I look at each candidate based on what they potentially bring to the office they're trying to achieve.  I look at their track record.  If they've held elective office before I want to know what they accomplished.  I want to know if they have the intellectual horsepower to handle the new job.  Does their academic history form a solid foundation for the rigors of the work ahead?  What kind of preparation for this job has their employment history provided?  Politics is, in great part, the art of negotiation, so I want to know if the candidates have shown us that they are skilled in that area.  Are they willing to compromise where necessary for the greater good, or do they dig their heels in and not give an inch?

I also want to know if they've demonstrated the ability to build consensus in difficult situations.  Have they taken a leadership role when tackling tough issues?  Does their style unify or divide people?  In the case of the Assembly, since California is a very diverse state demographically, have they demonstrated the ability to reach across ethnic boundaries to solve problems?  Have they been effective in their professional lives and in other public positions they've held?  Will their personal lives - financial and otherwise - permit them to spend enough time in this new job?  What is their personal philosophy of governance?  What, or who, do they look to for guidance, mentoring, inspiration and financial support?  These factors, among many others, are things I consider when assessing candidates for any elected position and are among those I will look at when considering candidates for the 74th Assembly District.  Let us begin...

Allan Mansoor is a man about which I know a great deal.  I've watched him in action for eight years as a Costa Mesa City Councilman, including his multiple tours as mayor.  I actually knew a little bit about him before that, too.  He was a frequent commenter on the now-dormant Concerned Costa Mesa Citizens web site - basically a chat room created by some Costa Mesa residents as a place to "discuss" issues in the community.  Without going into all the lengthy details, suffice it to say that several items caught the eye of the local media - Daily Pilot reporter Lolita Harper wrote a 3-part expose' on the site - and the Orange County Human Relations Commission became aware of it and started nosing around.  One of the issues was the posting of anti-gay articles by Allan Mansoor who, at that time, was a member of the Costa Mesa Human Relations Committee.  Following the public scrutiny the owners of the site eventually just folded it up.  As a sidebar, during Mansoor's tenure on the city council the Human Relations Committee was unceremoniously defunded then disbanded without so much as a simple "thank you" to the participants, some of whom had devoted decades to the work done by that committee.

Mansoor was a career Orange County Sheriff's Deputy and, despite his presentation that he spent time in patrol and other assignments, most of his tour of duty was spent as a jailer.  That's not necessarily bad - those jobs are essential - but his performance on the city council clearly demonstrated that he had little, if any, grasp of real law enforcement.

During his tenure on the Costa Mesa City Council Mansoor was a divisive figure.  Although the son of immigrants - a badge he proudly wears and brings tears to his eyes in public - is personal animosity for the immigrant population of our city was evident in many of his actions.  Few will forget the night he had immigrants-rights activist Benito Acosta dragged from council chambers by a half-dozen officers and arrested.  That ham-handed handling of an already volatile situation split our city and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and Acosta's name continues to appear on warrants for payment to our legal counsel years later.  He was embraced by the radical right because of his "bravery" and made an honorary "Minuteman" by the Grand Pooba of that organization himself, Jim Gilchrist.

Mansoor's platform for the Assembly seat is founded on Pension Reform, yet during his tenure on the Costa Mesa City Council - including his time as mayor - he accomplished NOTHING in that area.  In his two years in the Assembly he has accomplished NOTHING.  He has shown no leadership in either job - which is not surprising to me, having watched him in action for more than a decade.  He is academically and intellectually unprepared for this job and his philosophy is only an echo of words provided for him by the leadership of the Orange County Republican Party, who have plowed lots of money into his campaign in the form of Independent Expenditures.

In a recent post on his blog, Civil Thinking, my friend, Bruce Krochman addressed this race and said the following:
"What Mr. Mansoor does bring, is the ability to stay in line with party leadership. In the broader scheme of things, of this group of candidates, that is the one quality that above all else makes Assemblyman Mansoor the one to vote for. "  And, in my opinion, that single characteristic is what makes him unworthy of my vote.  What we need in Sacramento are people willing and ABLE to work across the aisle to make things better for all Californians.  Mansoor does not possess the skills to do that - never has and probably never will.  He won't get my vote.

Leslie Daigle has been a HUGE disappointment to me.  I had high hopes that she would be a very viable alternative to Mansoor in this race.  She's been a member of the Newport Beach City Council for several years but I don't have a sense that she's been a consensus-builder in that role.  She won re-election two years ago, so I'm assuming the voters in Newport Beach thought she was doing a good job.  I WANTED to like her as a candidate and tried to establish a rapport with her early in her campaign.  Then came the Feet To The Fire Forum.

At that event, which pitted the egos of some journalists against the egos of politicians, Daigle failed miserably.  She was clearly uncomfortable trying to field questions from some members of the press who may have had an ax to grind with her.  I was not the only person who felt that way following the event and when I wrote about it Daigle took extreme exception to my characterization.  I wrote about that, too.

Daigle has managed to win very significant financial support from the Chairman of the Santa Clara County Republican Party, Charles Munger.  His group has plowed somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000 into her campaign.  My mailbox has been flooded with literature supporting her and bad-mouthing Mansoor - and vice versa.  I've saved them all.  I'm not so naive to think that tons of cash wouldn't be thrown into this race - there's a lot to lose.

Despite my plea - which went unanswered, by the way - Daigle decided to NOT participate in what is likely the last chance for the three candidates in this race to meet face-to-face and discuss issues.  Last Friday night only Mansoor and Rush showed up at the Laguna Beach City Hall for the debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters and other community groups.  A chair on the dais with her name on it remained reserved for her the entire evening.  I suspect, considering her poor performance at the Feet To The Fire Forum earlier, she and her advisers may have decided tactically to just blow off this event for fear of doing more damage.  Well, it didn't work.  I heard not a single comment in support of her absence from that event that evening.

Despite her otherwise attractive - to me - more moderate positions on issues, if she is unwilling to discuss important issues with her opposition during a campaign, how in the world can we expect her to handle the interests important to the voters of the 74th Assembly District in Sacramento?  If she is afraid of confrontation she has NO chance of being effective up there.  Much to my disappointment - because I feel the Republican Party is letting this state slip away, and I feel we need strong, competent elected Republicans in both houses of the Legislature to improve things - I cannot support Leslie Daigle in this race.

Which brings us to Robert Rush - the political neophyte and freshly-minted Democrat.  I must tell you right off the bat, I wish Rush had chosen to register as a Republican for this race - he could have, after all.  His views on most issues are moderate, although he differs with the GOP party line on abortion and same sex marriage.  So, he switched from "Decline to State" to Democrat to run in this race.  I guess I understand why.

Rush, while never a candidate for any office before, has become an avid community activist.  He launched and led the battle against the proliferation of rehabilitation facilities in Newport Beach, a baptism by fire in anyone's book.  That activism didn't make him popular among many of the entrenched politicians in that city, but he plowed ahead.  And, he's a CPA and a very successful businessman, both of which are extremely desirable attributes for someone charged with trying to sort out California's abysmal fiscal situation.  He knows how to negotiate deals.

He was, in the view of many people, the "winner" at the Feet To The Fire Forum, demonstrating an ability to think on his feet and speak off the cuff and knowing when to just quietly sit there and let those around him implode.  At the Laguna Beach forum he also did well, handling himself with self-assured maturity and never hesitating to answer tough questions.  He just seemed confident.   At the time I felt he and Mansoor had a draw for the evening.  My opinion was based purely on how they each did that night.  Their differences were clear, as were the many areas in which they shared a common vision for change.  The question, of course, which of them can get that change accomplished.
The Orange County Democratic Party apparatus has been slow to embrace him.   I suppose that's understandable, since he's an unknown to them, too. 
I'm OK with that.  It actually makes him a more attractive candidate to me.  However, he's done a good job of reaching out to Democrat enclaves over the past couple months and has generally avoided the mud-slinging that Mansoor and Daigle have employed in their campaigns.

And so, as this new, scary Open Primary permits - and although I'm a life-long Republican who has NEVER voted for a Democrat in a partisan race before - I'm going to lean over and mark my ballot for Bob Rush for the 74th Assembly District seat.  I've decided that it is unacceptable to place an incompetent ideologue - Mansoor -  who has no chance at all of accomplishing anything in Sacramento, in that chair.  And Daigle - who might have been my choice except for her unwillingness to engage her opponents - leaves me no alternative.  Although I disagree on some issues with Rush, his centrist leanings lead me to feel he has a much better chance of influencing issues that cry out for change than either of the other candidates.  If he manages to be one of the two candidates left standing on June 6th, the November election will be even more fun.
Now, back to the rest of the ballot.  Heck, since Diane Feinstein will probably have this thing wrapped up again, I might just vote for Orly Taitz for Senate, just for fun.

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Anonymous Really? said...

Correction: Mansoor is not anti immigrant. Certainly he is for screening and deporting ILLEGAL immigrants arrested for crimes. Hopefully you can see that being a proponent of that does not make one anti immigrant. If you can't see that then you are mislabeling thousands of people.

5/29/2012 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Thanks for sharing your thinking on the Assembly decision. It reminded me of working on a math problem. I followed you all the way to the end, but reached a different answer: Do not vote for ANY of the named candidates. Instead, write-in Jim Fitzpatrick!

I'm shaking my head here wondering where your logic went wrong.

5/29/2012 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

I saw an Orly Taitz for Senate sign out near Grand Terrace yesterday. She's probably making a late run in the polls, unless the "Kenyan Usurper" continues to deny her civil rights. (I really did see a sign yesterday, but the rest is pure fantasy...)

Geoff, your endorsement is well-thought out. It proves that money is just one part of politics and that you can't beat somebody with nobody.

I think what we are also finding out is that the "jungle primary" or the "survivor primary" requires a new way of thinking to pick and choose candidates. But that's for a blog post after June 5...

5/29/2012 08:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

I, too, am a lifelong Republican -- or rather, a member of the party of Lincoln. I suppose in many parlances that makes me a Mugwump (a bird who sits on the fence with his mug on one side and his wump on the other).

I admired Bob Rush for his performance at the Feet to the Fire forum. He had gumption enough to hold his tongue politely and watch the other two batter themselves to flinders on the rocky shoal of snottiness. Neither of them took him seriously enough to include him in the discussion, and it's clear to me that this was a "big mistake". Their wrangling was, to put it mildly, juvenile.

Rush's handling of the question about jobs creation was as smooth and mature as any I've ever seen. He pointed out that he'd hired people, but in a gentlemanly fashion left Mansoor's closure of the CM jobs center (on the pretext of saving money, but which of course saved none) alone. Had it been me, I'd have probably whacked Mansoor on that; by this alone, Rush is better qualified to be an assembly member than I, and therefore better so than Mansoor. In fact, he may be better qualified than even you...

I spoke to Daigle for the first time at the 19th street bridge riot in Huntington Beach -- the one where Moorlach threw Rosansky under the bus. She at that time expressed an unwillingness (appropriately weasel-worded) to see the fairytale bridge removed from the Master plan... at least until the Banning Ranch issues (read: November election) had been settled in favor of the "improvers" (or developers, or land-rapers, or whatever your bent calls them). Judging from the lynch-mob aspect of the meeting, this unwillingness was not exactly pro-survival... How could we expect her to behave in Sacramento, given this kind of folly?

Good post, guy.

5/29/2012 11:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike O'Reilly said...

Mr. Really? is correct. Mansoor isn’t anti-immigrant. He’s anti-Hispanic immigrant. Which makes him a racist. As a Costa Mesa politician, he became a racist demagogue, no better than George Wallace or Strom Thurmond. He bullied and denigrated an entire group of Costa Mesa residents and shamelessly pandered to the city’s xenophobes and Know Nothings to vault himself into the legislature. And he must have the thinnest resumé of any politician in California: boy jailer and water carrier for the OCGOP. Absolutely none of this qualifies him for public office. He is easily the most repellant political candidate our county has seen since John Schmitz. Vote him out.

5/29/2012 01:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Feeny said...

Really: Mansoor is not against immigrants unless they are from south of the border..Haven't you been awake for the past decade? PLEASE. He and his car pool buddy Millard are both of the same ilk:. "If its brown, flush it down..."

5/29/2012 02:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Greg Diamond said...

A vote for Orly Taitz for Senate is a vote for the further debasement of our political system. I know that it gives us Democrats some advantages, but they aren't worth it to me.

Matt Munson did a review of the GOP candidates on Orange Juice blog. http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=76963. You'll find one named Oscar Alejandro Braun. Matt's description:

His goal for his senate campaign is to advocate for environmental awareness, in particular the watersheds and ecosystems that exist in our state.

If I were voting for a Republican, that's who I'd support, although I don't quite get why you wouldn't vote for Elizabeth Emken.

As for voting for Bob Rush -- he seems like a decent guy. I would be happy to see him make the general election. As your party careens further and further away from sanity and responsibility, you may just get used to voting for Democrats.

5/29/2012 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Clearly, I did not make it clear enough that my tongue was firmly planted in my cheek when I suggested that I'd be voting for Taitz. However, since it did evoke concern from you I guess I achieved that objective. ;-)

5/29/2012 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Tina Wilcox Gold said...

Given how Don Terrumph has embraced Judge Taitz, I half expect to see a Romney/? presidency with Terrumph as attorney general, and Taitz as Secretary of labor.

Rush has two votes in our household. Many GOP votes are needed to get him to the November ballot. And we've got all of one week.

5/29/2012 07:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

As I continue to get inundated with mailers for Mansoor and Daigle, I'm definitely leaning to Rush. That said, I fear if Mansoor gets re-elected, it's a bad sign for the hoped-for turnover in the City Council in Nov.

5/29/2012 08:07:00 PM  
Anonymous zenofobe said...

O'Reilly plays the racist card! He is out of ideas and facts. Maybe he could talk to Wendy Leece and have her explain why she was Mansoor's running mate and all in with the screening and deporting of criminals?

5/30/2012 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Excellent commentary on the candidates and as well thought approach to the best candidate. I am a lifelong Republican as well and have never voted for a Democrat. This will be the first time in my life. I'm actually quite disgusted with where our country and state is headed. Bob Rush is the candidate I have long sought after but rarely could find - fiscally conservative and socially liberal. He is the only candidate with a CPA that understands profit and loss(don't spend more than you earn!). The only candidate to have his own successful for profit private business (not spend taxpayer money on contracts). The only candidate to actually answer a question truthfully and succinctly even if it means costing him votes (i.e. gay marriage, medical marijuana, etc). The only non-career politician. Finally, our district needs leaders that can convince the state to make changes or bring dollars to our district. Daigle does not have respect from the people she has served for and with. Mansoor to his own admission feels he cannot accomplish anything given the gridlock in the state. California had at one time a top tier education system - one of the most valuable assets in our state. It's extremely dissapointing what has happened and we need change -fast.

5/30/2012 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike O'Reilly said...

Mr. Zenophobe: Playing the "racist card" is legitimate if the person in question does or says racist stuff -- as our Boy Jailer did repeatedly while mayor and city councilman. You could look it up. Being Wendy Leece's "running mate" doesn't mean Mansoor isn't racist. Saying it's so is like ending a debate by saying "Shut up!" And I have neither admiration nor respect for Ms. Leese. I'm sure she's nice lady, but she's also an immigrant basher and religious zealot. I still cringe when I see "In God We Trust" in the city hall chambers. Ms. Leece may trust in him, but not all of us do.

5/30/2012 07:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Vern said...

How do you like that, compadre? You vote for your first Democrat ... the same week that I become a Republican to vote for Ron Paul!


5/30/2012 09:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

Thank you for providing us with your wise guidelines for selecting a candidate. You've done the hard work for me for the 74th Assembly District, but I have printed out and plan to keep as a future guide the questions you presented in "Checking the Resumes" and "Leadership."

The answers to your questions are not often easy to find, but your blueprint has given me the inspiration to try harder to find them in the future.

5/31/2012 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Thank you, Geoff.
You ask good questions and do a lot of research in selecting a candidate. I wish more people did.
I will also be voting for Bob Rush knowing Mansoor's track record and Daigle's inability to take the heat.
I'm also furious after receiving no fewer than six of her hit pieces (mailers) today, one in particular full of lies and fear mongering, aimed at scaring Democrats into voting for her.
Haven't we had enough of fear and lies in Costa Mesa?
Thanks again, Geoff!

5/31/2012 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

So THAT'S why the Human Relations Committee was dissolved. It was all about revenge. Karl was on that committee when it happened. It was very sad.

5/31/2012 07:06:00 PM  

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