UPDATED: In the 2.5 months after he entered the race, Matt Harper raised $15,353 and had $7,887 cash on hand (excluding $7,500 in candidate loans), as of the close of 2011. In the first three days after he entered the race, Tyler Diep raised $50,399 and had all of it on hand, with no loans. By the end of 2011, he had raised $137,049 and still had $129,604 cash on hand. He had no candidate loans. (Source: OC Political)
The newly created 72nd Assembly District includes the following cities: Westminster, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, a portion of Huntington Beach, a portion of Santa Ana, and the unincorporated county island of Midway City. The GOP has an 11% voter edge in this district.
Yes – this district includes quite a bit of Little Saigon – and it also encompasses Vietnamese communities in Fountain Valley, Santa Ana and other parts of the district. Perhaps that is why there are three Vietnamese American candidates in the open primary – Westminster Mayor Pro Tem Tyler Diep, OC Board of Education Trustee Long Pham and the only Democrat in the race, Garden Grove Planning Commissioner Joe Dovinh.
You have to figure that Diep is the favorite as he has the highest name identification of the three Vietnamese American candidates – and he has won several local elections. Professionally, Diep serves as Senior Advisor to the State Board of Equalization, an agency that is charged with collecting sales tax. In this position, he is responsible for minority business outreach and public affairs. Click here to check out Diep’s Facebook page.
Huntington Beach Councilman Matt Harper, who used to be Supervisor Janet Nguyen’s Chief of Staff, is also running. He is currently a Public Affairs manager for the County of Orange. Harper says he is a fiscal conservative – but he works for the county government, in a job he didn’t deserve, no doubt pulling down six figures. Will he actually work for the OC Waste Agency – or was he put there by Supervisor Nguyen so he could pull down a nice salary while campaigning for the 72nd Assembly District?
“Matt Harper has been officially warned to avoid any political activities while working as public affairs manager at OC Waste & Recycling for the next year,” according to the Voice of OC.
Harper embarrassed himself when he voted to support a measure that would have resulted in the posting of DUI offenders labeled “habitual” by the City of Huntington Beach, on their Facebook page. The problem? Harper didn’t tell anyone that he was arrested for driving under the influence a few years ago, when he was a member of the Huntington Beach Union High School District’s Board of Education.
Here is what the Surf City Voice reported about Harper’s arrest:
On Dec. 19, 2004, at about 1:30 in the morning, Harper was arrested by the HBPD on Beach Blvd. and Bishop Street in the city of Westminster and then booked in the Huntington Beach City Jail for driving under the influence and being well over the blood alcohol concentration limit (BAC), according to court records. Harper was serving as an elected member of the board of the Huntington Beach Unified High School District at the time.
When contacted by the Voice, Harper spoke willingly about the incident and acknowledged that on the night he was arrested he had eaten but also downed seven alcoholic drinks between the hours of 6 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Harper’s arrest is reminiscent of Westminster Councilman Andy Quach’s 2009 DUI arrest – which included his car hitting a power pole in Westminster. While Quach was ridiculed on all the local political blogs, Harper’s arrest was not reported at the time. In fact one of the charges against him was dropped. He later plead not guilty to the second charge and that was dropped to, and eventually expunged from his record. It was essentially covered up – until Harper’s Facebook vote. That measure failed.
Click here to check out Harper’s Facebook page.
There is a chance that Pham will undermine Diep, and I have no clue why Pham is even running, but I doubt Pham will get many votes as he will not likely raise much money or do any serious campaigning.
Dovinh operates a Business and Law Center in Garden Grove with his wife, Councilwoman Dina Nguyen. He has quietly gathered a lot of support in the Democratic Party and has a good shot at making the top two in the open primary.
Who will advance in the new open primary, to replace the squishy incumbent, Jim Silva? Hopefully not Harper. He is the ultimate insider and of all the candidates he is the least likely to do anything meaningful in Sacramento.