I ran into two of the three candidates for the 34th State Senate District today at the Memorial Day event at Fairhaven Memorial Park and Mortuary in Santa Ana. Former Assemblyman Jose Solorio, who is currently the President of the Rancho Santiago Community College District’s Board of Trustees, was involved at the start of the program, when he introduced the young lady who won a poetry contest with an entry about Betsy Ross. Supervisor Janet Nguyen was there as well. She spoke later in the program.
Solorio was comfortable and relaxed. He sat in the RSVP area next to Santa Ana Chief of Police Carlos Rojas. Nguyen on the other hand was visibly nervous as she clutched the podium, and her speech was stilted and poorly enunciated. She kept saying, for example, “de-mock-acy,” instead of “democracy.” And she referred to “men and women” she repeatedly said “men and woman.” It was quite awkward.
Perhaps Nguyen was a bit nervous about the news that “Solorio has the money lead as of the end of the most recent campaign finance filing period, which extended from the March 18 through May 17. Solorio had about $580,000 to spend at the end of the filing period, whereas Nguyen’s campaign had about $283,000 on hand,” as reported by the Long Beach Press Telegram.
Inexplicably I have received at least three large full color campaign mailers form Nguyen in the past two weeks. Why she is wasting her money is a mystery as her Republican opponent, Long Pham, has only raised about $7,000 – and it is his own money. So why is Nguyen wasting thousands of dollars on campaign mailers – when Solorio has such a huge cash advantage? Could Nguyen be so deluded that she thinks she can win outright in the June Primary Election?
I don’t know if Nguyen realizes how stacked the deck is in Solorio’s favor. At the event today Solorio was introduced as, among other things, a candidate for the 34th State Senate District. That courtesy was not extended to Nguyen.
Solorio has been in office in Central Orange County for years and he was a successful Santa Ana Council Member as well as a lobbyist for the OCTA. Nguyen, on the other hand, was a Garden Grove City Council Member for a short while then she moved on to her current County office. She doesn’t have Solorio’s name I.D. or support in Anaheim and in Santa Ana.
I used to be friendly with Nguyen when she first got elected to her County office. We parted ways when she inexplicably endorsed Carlos Bustamante the last time he ran for re-election. We all now what happened to Bustamante after that. I recall one day talking to Nguyen about the demographics in her district. She told me she had started a Hispanic Advisory Committee. I asked to see the names and was shocked to see that they were all Republicans – and none of them lived in the district.
Has Nguyen learned anything since that shocking revelation? I doubt it. She always thinks she knows best but she remains out of touch with her district. And if Solorio beats her in November it will be due to that more than anything else.
I remain hopeful that Pham will somehow block Nguyen from advancing to the General Election but while he is popular in the O.C. Vietnamese community I don’t know that he can pull votes from the other demographics in the district. So most likely we will end up with Solorio and Nguyen facing off in November in what will be a very expensive contest.
While Nguyen is trying to sell herself as a conservative I remember very clearly the answer she gave me when I first met her. I asked her what were her top three issues. She stared into space for a few minutes, gathered herself and finally replied, “small business.” That was it. She stood for nothing else. She remains an empty suit and Solorio has a lot more money, and personality, than she does.
It makes one wonder if the OC GOP bet on the wrong horse. Popular SAUSD Trustee Ceci Iglesias was the top vote-getter when she ran for the SAUSD School Board in 2012, garnering more votes than two longtime incumbents. She did that on a shoestring budget. She is now running for the 69th Assembly District, against a loathsome career Democratic politician, Tom Daly. She has a good shot against him because he is so unpopular with Latino voters. But imagine what she could have done as the Republican nominee for the 34th State Senate District, which has a higher percentage of Republican voters? I think she would have been a much stronger candidate against Solorio.
And one has to wonder in the end if Nguyen will at some point be indicted for campaign finance shenanigans. I keep hearing that the FBI is looking hard at her – and she reminded me of that today as she was wearing prison pinstripes.
The OC GOP has bet the house on Nguyen but Solorio is outpacing her fundraising and he isn’t blowing his money, unlike her. He is holding on, like an expert poker player, knowing the election that really matters is coming in November. He will be ready. Will Nguyen?