Political pundits have been examining what happened in the 37th State Senate District Special Election that saw former O.C. Supervisor John Moorlach beat State Assemblyman Don Wagner, even though Wagner vastly outspent Moorlach.
The O.C. Register’s Martin Wisckol noted in a column this weekend that “Moorlach received 2,996 more votes in his hometown of Costa Mesa while Wagner won by just 336 votes in his hometown of Irvine. State Senate District 37 is roughly split between the area Moorlach formerly represented as a county supervisor and the area Wagner currently represents as an assemblyman.”
While the Wagner campaign has Moorlach attacked them as much as Wagner attacked Moorlach, the truth is that the attacks on Moorlach backfired because they were largely untrue. And the local media, including this blog and the O.C. Register, quickly fired back at Wagner’s campaign, setting the record straight and limiting the damage to Moorlach.
What Wagner was not able to overcome was the fact that what Moorlach’s people had to say about him was true. Unions did fund much of his campaign and Independent Expenditures that were spent on his behalf or on attacks on Moorlach. And Wagner is an acolyte of odious former Anaheim Mayor turned lobbyist Curt Pringle.
The voters in the 37th State Senate District are majority Republican and they clearly were not enthused by Wagner’s union support and by his connection to Pringle, whose own name is mud because if his support for high speed rail and the failure/boondoggle that is the Anaheim ARTIC rail station.
Wisckol and others have by the way focused on the fact that Moorlach had better name I.D. than Wagner, which is true. However Wagner previously served as a Community College Trustee and he too had a lot of name I.D. as a State Assemblyman.
We believe that the lesson of this election, for Orange County Republicans, is clear. Don’t get in bed with the unions – and don’t lie about your opponent if he is a better man than you.
Another factor in Moorlach’s victory was that he was aided by Deborah Pauly, a conservative Republican who helped Moorlach to get the CRA endorsement. Pauly also was able to bring the Tea Party movement to the Moorlach campaign. She also ran his grassroots effort – and Moorlach ended up winning in both Anaheim and Villa Park.
Lastly it really helped Moorlach that he was endorsed and supported by Republican elected officials who are real conservatives and who have developed a reputation for getting things done. Moorlach’s endorsers included the conservatives on the Costa Mesa City Council (and Moorlach won in Costa Mesa), Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and Supervisor Shawn Nelson.
Wagner was backed not just by the loathsome Pringle but also by other RINOs and (and in some cases outright corrupt elected officials) such as State Senator Janet Nguyen and the useless U.S. Rep. Ed Royce.
For Orange County conservatives Moorlach’s election means we now know that we can beat the RINO’s going forward.