We can’t find anyone who wasn’t surprised by Congressman John Campbell‘s retirement announcement this afternoon. Here’s the statement sent via email by the OC GOP earlier:
Representative John Campbell (CA-45) to Retire from Congress in 2014
Washington – This evening, on Hugh Hewitt’s nationally syndicated radio show, U.S. Representative John Campbell announced his intention to retire from public service next year at the end of the 113th Congress.
Representative Campbell, first elected to the U.S. Congress in 2005 through a special election held to replace former Representative Christopher Cox, will have served five terms when he retires in 2014. Campbell, the Chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade, currently represents California’s 45th district.
Upon making his announcement, Representative Campbell authorized the following statement to be released immediately:
I have decided that I will not seek re-election to represent California’s 45th Congressional district in 2014. At the end of this term, I will have spent 14 years serving in full-time, elected politics. I am not nor did I ever intend to be a career politician. I am ready to begin a new chapter in my life.
It has been an honor and a privilege to represent the district where my wife and I have raised our children. I look forward to continuing that representation for the balance of the 113th Congress. I have been blessed to have the unwavering support of my family, friends, and the residents of Orange County throughout these years, and for that I will remain forever grateful.
My passion for the conservative issues for which I have fought so vocally over that span has not waned. But in the future, I will continue the fight for more freedom and a less authoritarian government as a private citizen rather than elected official.
Drive fast and live free.
I remain respectfully,
Member of Congress
Martin Wisckol at the Register wrote up the story right away — it’s outside their paywall here.
There’s no time like the present to begin speculating on who will run for Campbell’s seat. Per the FlashReport’s Jon Fleischman, termed out State Senator Mimi Walters announced her interest immediately — and just as quickly we were reminded via Allan Bartlett on Facebook that she’d recently broken Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge. AD72 Candidate Troy Edgar refused the Pledge last year and took an 11-point, $300k+ thrashing by political newcomer Travis Allen.
Wisckol had an immediate local update on the usual suspects who might be interested in the seat: “County Supervisors John Moorlach and Pat Bates, former state Sen. Dick Ackerman, Irvine Mayor Steven Choi, Dana Point Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, Board of Equalization member Michelle Steel, and former Anaheim Councilman Harry Sidhu.” Hopefully we won’t see that lightweight Chris Cox thinking he’s forgiven and running again for this Seat that he left during the Bush Administration to attempt running the SEC.
Wisckol also said that Irvine Councilman Jeff Lalloway and State Assemblyman Allan Mansoor “would not be running”. Two other names that weren’t mentioned, or just forgotten in the frenzy, were Don Wagner and Van Tran.
We wouldn’t be very surprised if Shawn and Michelle Steel were having a serious conversation with OC GOP Chair Scott Baugh this evening either. They’ve already relocated to Costa Mesa for her run at John Moorlach’s Supervisorial seat. Shawn Steel is the Republican National Committeeman from California and past Chairman of the State Republican Party. Past CRP Chairman Ron Nehring might have some ideas as well — he lives in the San Diego area.
Michelle Steel presents herself extremely well, and as a Korean would be representative of the County’s huge Asian community. Jumping to the Congressional race would be easy for this “power couple”, and leave Allan Mansoor an easy path to Moorlach’s office that he’s interested in — then leaving his Assembly seat for Emanuel Patrascu (Travis Allen’s campaign manager and District Director) and the feckless County Trash Department PR guy Matt Harper to fight over.
With no incumbent in the 2014 race for the 45th, it’s also valuable (or scary) to speculate on the Democrats who might gin up campaigns and fundraising: Irvine Councilmembers Larry Agran and Beth Krom (who lost to Campbell in 2010) certainly make the list, as would Sukhee Kang who lost to Campbell in 2012. Per Wisckol, the District “is 45 percent Republican and 28 percent Democrat”, but there’s a lot of Democrat money in Irvine as Agran’s proven and he’s the Sleaze when it comes to extracting money from his “progressive” base via his semi-legal voter guide and arm twisting — and there are plenty of Great Park vendors who owe him. Perennial Democrat candidate Steve Young would make the list as well.
With the State GOP on life support and the local infighting and corruption under Baugh’s leadership, the Democrats would see this Seat as a bigger prize than they scored when Loretta Sanchez won, and then held for decades, Bob Dorner’s seat in central Orange County. We were far more Republican then than were are today.
Update (6/28/13): Wisckol posted late yesterday that Michelle Steel is not interested in running. That’s too bad as we’d have thought her husband was ambitious enough to push her into the race and he could have enlisted GOP funder Buck Johns’ support for the race. Martin’s Facebook post:
John Webb, who competed against Campbell last year, is also Facebook posting that he’ll be entering the race.
AND, we understand that Quang Pham has, at least temporarily, returned to California — we hope he takes a look at this as well.
Frank Ury is in (and there is a later post that “Ury is looking seriously at a Supervisor bid”):
Fleischman also reports in his lead FlashReport piece this morning that Mimi Walters has “already lined up early endorsements from Congressman Ed Royce, and from Orange County’s DA, Tony Rackauckas, and Sheriff Sandra Hutchens”. Fleischman also rules out candidacies for Chris Cox, Bill Campbell, Diane Harkey, Michelle Steel, Pat Bates and Jeff Lalloway” and later updated that Rep. Gary Miller would not switch Districts to run in the 45th. He tosses in a few names as well (some from above): Ackerman, Choi, Christina Shea, Tom Tait, Kris Murray, Fred Whitaker, Gaddi Vasquez, Sidhu, Moorlach, Mansoor, Neal Kashkiri, Todd Spitzer and Phil Liberatore. He also mentions Democrats Tita Smith and mentioned above, Steve Young. We don’t agree that “no Democrat can win this seat” per our reference to Bob Dorner above and other recent examples of Democrat successes like Sharon Quirk-Silva’s victory last year over the
conservative nebbish Chris Norby and their capture of super majorities on BOTH sides of the State Legislature.
The best take on Campbell’s record and lack of accomplishments so far: CA GOP Congressman Campbell to retire; will tax pledge become issue for Mimi Walters?? from Geoffrey S. Cantor at the California Political Review. In part,
Campbell, whose votes were generally conservative in the Congress, nevertheless had problems with local Republican activists during his term, who were upset by his votes in favor of Federal assistance to the automotive industry, (“TARP”) and by his stand-offish style in refusing to meet with many Republican volunteers who had requested face-time over the years, people who are the front-line of the Party’s “get out the vote” efforts, and whom Campbell should have given some better appreciation. Campbell, who owned some automobile dealerships, was not a thoroughly popular figure at Orange County Republican Central Committee meetings either, and the Central Committee once narrowly voted to deny him it’s endorsement for re-election. His faulty, almost vainly, arrogant style may have been absorbed by the GOP Leadership in the Congress as well, which denied him any significant Committee Chairmanship assignment during his years in office, or any significant individual legislative accomplishment.