After disappointing November, Orange County Democrats look to bounce back in special

 After disappointing November, Orange County Democrats look to bounce back in special

A Democratic win here would be difficult, though. Steel easily prevailed here 63-25 in 2018 and, though Joe Biden won all the Board of Supervisors districts, his 50-48 win in the 2nd makes it the reddest of the five. However, the process for this special election is different than the one for regular board of supervisor races, which does introduce some extra unpredictability into the contest.

Campaign Action

While still officially nonpartisan, there is no second round of voting among the top two vote getters; the candidate who wins a plurality of the vote will serve in this seat until the next regular election in 2022. This is a complicating factor for both parties, who are attempting to consolidate around a single candidate in this five-candidate field.

The Democratic Party of Orange County has endorsed Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley. Foley also has the support of numerous elected officials, including all the Democratic members of Orange County’s congressional delegation and Supervisor Doug Chaffee, the lone Democratic board member. Attorney Janet Rappaport is the other Democratic candidate in the running, but she has not received any notable endorsements and, as of late February, had only raised $25,000.

Democrats, though, may be able to benefit from an even more fragmented GOP field, where three candidates are running and there is dissension among party leaders. The county GOP and Supervisor Lisa Bartlett are backing former state Sen. John Moorlach, who previously represented this seat on the Board until he was elected to the legislature in 2015. (Moorlach narrowly lost re-election to the state Senate last year.)

Moorlach hardly has all the major conservative interest groups on his side, however, as the union representing Orange County sheriff deputies has spent $240,000 against him: The Voice of OC writes that this is “the first time in recent memory” that the group has opposed a candidate backed by the county GOP.

The other two Republican candidates, Newport Beach City Council member Kevin Muldoon and Fountain Valley Mayor Michael Vo, have each raised a notable amount of money as well and received endorsements from board members. Muldoon has the backing of Supervisor Don Wagner, while fellow Supervisor Andrew Do decided to dole out endorsements for both Muldoon and Vo.

The coronavirus pandemic has emerged as the dominant issue during this campaign. Communities in the district such as Newport Beach and Huntington Beach were hotspots last year for protests and backlash against California’s coronavirus restrictions, with Wagner even joining in to speak at one of the rallies. While none of the GOP candidates have taken stances quite that extreme, Muldoon has kept his focus on reopening the economy and Moorlach also decried some protective measures against the virus as “an incredible overreaction.”

Foley has taken a distinctly different approach to handling the pandemic. She’s touted the mask mandate Costa Mesa instituted last year, while also attacking the board’s response to the virus and pledging to focus on speeding up the vaccination process for residents of the county.

Senate

AL-Sen: Former Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard revealed Friday that she had reserved $3 million in TV time for the spring of 2022, which makes this the earliest we can ever recall a candidate or outside group announcing a primary ad campaign. The wealthy Blanchard, though, may be hoping that, by booking a huge amount of ad time over a year in advance, she may be able to deter other Republicans from entering the nomination fight for this open seat. The GOP ad tracking firm Medium Buying reports that this reservation will start in late March of next year and last until the end of May.

Alabama TV viewers won’t need to wait until next year to see Blanchard, though, as she’s also spending $100,000 for spots that will begin the week of March 8 during March Madness 2021.  

NC-Sen: The New York Times reports that former astronaut Joan Higginbotham is considering seeking the Democratic nomination for this open seat. Higginbotham’s 2006 mission aboard Space Shuttle Discovery made her one of the first African American women to go into space, and she would also be North Carolina’s first Black U.S. senator.

PA-Sen: Politico reports that attorney John Giordano, who worked for Donald Trump’s transition team in 2016 and has also donated heavily to his campaign, is thinking about a bid for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat. His father, Frank, runs the Philly Pops orchestra and, noted Philadelphia magazine last year, “was once also the president of the crusty and conservative Union League,” a private social club.

Governors

GA-Gov: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Greg Bluestein says that ultra-Trumpist state Sen. Burt Jones is “kicking the tires” for a possible primary challenge to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, a month after Bluestein reported that Kemp’s team was keeping an eye on him as a potential opponent. The wealthy Jones, who was booted as chair of a key committee by fellow Republicans for leading an effort to overturn last year’s election, has also been mentioned as a possibility for next year’s Senate race, when Democrat Raphael Warnock will be up for re-election.

KS-Gov: Former Gov. Jeff Colyer didn’t quite announce on Friday that he would seek the GOP nod to regain the office he held for just under a year, but he came extremely close. Colyer revealed that he’d brought on philanthropist Mary Eisenhower, the granddaughter of the Kansas-raised Dwight Eisenhower, to serve as his campaign treasurer, a post that needs to be filled before a candidate can raise money.

Colyer also unsubtly said that Eisenhower would be joining “our campaign” in his email to supporters, which also took several shots at Democratic incumbent Laura Kelly. Eisenhower herself also wrote that the former governor was the “ideal candidate to lead us past this pandemic and into a new era of prosperity and Kansas Excellence.”

Colyer, who became wealthy as a plastic surgeon, was elected lieutenant governor in 2010 and 2014 on a ticket with Sam Brownback, and he was elevated to the top job in early 2018 when the extremely unpopular Brownback resigned to take a Trump administration post. Colyer’s tenure proved to be brief, though, as he lost the GOP primary just a few months later to Trump-backed Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach by 343 votes; Kelly went on to defeat Kobach that fall.

Colyer has gone further than any other Republican in preparing a campaign against Kelly, who is the only Democratic governor up for re-election in 2022 in a state that Donald Trump carried, but he’d likely once again face serious intra-party opposition. A number of fellow Republicans have been publicly or privately considering challenging Kelly, with Attorney General Derek Schmidt affirming his interest a few days ago.

NY-Gov: Billionaire John Catsimatidis, the owner of the Gristedes supermarket chain, now says he’s not ruling out a bid for governor as a Republican, less than two months after he mooted a run for New York City mayor … as a Democrat, despite his full-throated support for Trump. Catsimatidis soon backed away from that earlier idea, though he did say last year that he would spend $100 million of his own money on such a race and perhaps would do so in a gubernatorial contest as well.

In his one previous foray into elective politics, Catsimatidis sought the GOP nomination in the 2013 mayoral race but lost 53-41 to Joe Lhota, who went on to get obliterated by Democrat Bill de Blasio 73-24.

VA-Gov: Former Roanoke City Sheriff Octavia Johnson announced Thursday that she would seek the Republican nomination at the May convention. Conventions can be very unpredictable, but it would be a big surprise if delegates opted for the new candidate given her twin defeats more than seven years ago.

Johnson lost re-election in 2013 to Democrat Tim Allen 44-39 in the city of Roanoke (not to be confused with surrounding Roanoke County, a separate and far more conservative jurisdiction). She competed in a special election for a safely blue state House seat a few months later and lost 70-30 against Sam Rasoul, a Democrat who is now running for lieutenant governor.

House

LA-02: The two Democratic state senators running in the March 20 all-party primary, Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson, each released a new spot in late February. Carter’s ad extols his character and record in office and reminds the audience that he’s backed by former Rep. Cedric Richmond. Carter Peterson’s commercial, meanwhile, features people praising her for getting Medicaid expansion for Louisiana and agreeing she’ll “make Medicare for all a reality.”

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