Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen, who represents Fountain Valley, and former Assemblyman Jose Solorio today announced they intend to run to succeed state Sen. Lou Correa, who will be termed out of office in 2014. Nguyen, who gave birth to her second child last night, sent out an email to reporters today announcing her bid for the 34th State Senate District next year.
Nguyen and Solorio join a number of others the Nooner reported earlier this week as candidates for this seat, indicating it will be vigorously contested in the Primary and certainly an R versus D race in the General election. SD34 was re-created in the State’s contested redistricting effort in 2010. The District is currently represented by termed out “moderate” Democrat Lou Correa. Part of the District was represented by Republican Tom Harman until he was termed out last year, with a portion of it then merged into the 34th (voters had no choice in their representation by Correa). Harman is now running for the Board of Equalization.
Solorio has apparently recovered, at least partially, from the enormous hit he took when Democrat campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee stole $677,181 from his campaign accounts (and many other unobservant Democrats) three years ago as our sister blog reported here. CNS says “he has more than $400,000 cash for a state senate bid and that the district has a two percent advantage in registration of Democratic voters over Republicans.”
Nguyen was elected County Supervisor in 2008 via a recount, by only three votes. She won’t be termed out of her Supervisor’s position until 2014, so she has an uncommon opportunity for a “free” run for this State Senate seat. But as CNS reports, she will NOT have an easy time trying to explain her ambush of the CalOptima Board:
Nguyen represents the county on the board of CalOptima, which provides healthcare for the county’s poor as well as one-fifth of its seniors. The grand jury report was critical of her role in shaking up the agency, saying it was a model of efficiency until Nguyen engineered changes that led to a defection of 16 senior-level executives. Nguyen blasted the grand jury report as error-ridden and that the agency was badly in need of reform. “Recently we’ve been reading a lot about the grand jury investigation and CalOptima and her mismanagement of CalOptima,” Solorio said. “About one in three children are covered by CalOptima and many seniors depend on CalOptima, so it’s a big deal.” Nguyen’s campaign consultant, Dave Gilliard, laughed off Solorio’s criticism.
Further, the union-backed Voice of OC reported on Tuesday that More Grand Jury CalOptima Reports Expected by June. We also reported on the problems Nguyen created at CalOptima here and here. Her Primary opponents can be counted to hammer her with this malfeasance, and it’s likely her position as the sole County Supervisor on the CalOptima Board will change with some or all of her peers joining her to dilute her influence on it and counter the moves she’s made in damaging it.
Nguyen also burned more than a few bridges with a strategically stupid move to gerrymander a portion of Fountain Valley, known for its dense, upscale Vietnamese population, into her Supervisorial District in 2012 as CNS also reported:
Another issue may be Nguyen’s role in the redistricting of Orange County supervisor districts in 2011 when many Latino leaders felt the supervisors made it safer for her re-election efforts by adding more Asian and white voters from Fountain Valley and western Garden Grove, splitting up Latino voters among two districts.
Consequently, with Solorio’s funding problems that likely prevented him from opposing her for Supervisor, the gerrymander was a wasted bullet as she was effectively uncontested for re-election (a damn shame — she was vulnerable to a good, honest candidate). The move won’t assist her in SD34, and only alienates Latino and older white voters who were blind-sided by the blatant political robbery of their previous representation by Supervisor John Moorlach who is well respected in the area. Moorlach’s office also has a reputation for servicing its constituents well; Nguyen’s does not, especially due to the turnover that’s occurred on her staff and her reputation for stiffing the many who’ve supported her going back to her days on the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce and as a staffer for former Assemblyman Ken Maddox.
This early in the campaign, from the Nooner’s list above, it’s difficult to pin down who the Orange County GOP might ultimately endorse for the 34th District. Former Huntington Beach Assemblyman Jim Silva was the first local pol to show an interest. As far as we know, Silva is still well-regarded by the GOP, has no baggage (except that inappropriate IHSS relationship) and nothing like CalOptima to explain. But he’s also duller than a 99-cent store knife. Dr. Long Pham ran a respectable early campaign for AD72 and could draw well among Asian voters, but he probably won’t have the funds to work with. Someone has to be joking about Troy Edgar as a candidate. Matt Harper won’t run if Nguyen does — he hasn’t the backbone to oppose her, has a DUI to explain, leaches off the County in appointed do-nothing, make-work jobs and has an undistinguished record in the Huntington Beach City Council minority.
The one potential (unannounced) candidate we most believe could have an impact on this race AND beat a viable Democrat like Solorio is Van Tran. Tran is still well-known and well-liked in the District, and retrospectively deserves some credit for his Congressional campaign against Loretta Sanchez in 2010. He was defeated, as were nine others in a District that’s been lost to the Republicans since 1996, but he ran a good, respectable campaign, distinguished himself as the professional he is and didn’t hurt this name recognition in the effort. Tran’s influential endorsement of Travis Allen in last year’s campaign for the 72nd Assembly District was the key to Allen’s win — he was a political unknown with no funding advantage over an unscrupulous opponent with a Mayor’s title who’d collected a complete inventory of all the “important” GOP endorsements early in the campaign.
The California Republican Party can not afford to lose this 34th District seat and become an even larger Super-minority in the State Senate than they already are. Somebody needs to get serious about Van Tran for this race.