When a politician puts his personal interests ahead of the public good, it’s always ugly. It’s even worse when you once stood together with him and fought the good fight.
That’s why the conservative Lincoln Club of Orange County has taken a principled stand against Assemblyman Don Wagner. Wagner has said he will run against our sitting Republican State Sen. John Moorlach. The club’s board endorsed Moorlach unanimously.
Moorlach is a legend in Orange County government. As a young CPA, he – and he alone – predicted the Orange County bankruptcy of 1994. In the aftermath, Moorlach was appointed treasurer-tax collector to clean up the mess. Moorlach was the only person who had a plan that would work.
Just Google the names of John Moorlach and his predecessor, Robert Citron, and the search results will show college-level textbook references to Moorlach’s skillful moves that pulled Orange County out of bankruptcy.
Later, when Moorlach was elected county supervisor, he worked to fix another looming financial threat – runaway public employee pensions.
Moorlach pushed for openness in negotiations, pulling back the veil so that taxpayers can see public employee contract negotiations. He also built consensus to reform the county’s retiree medical obligations, saving taxpayers $100 million a year.
Moorlach did his duty for Orange County. When the 37th state Senate seat opened last year, he decided it was time to bring his brand of truth-telling to Sacramento. In a three-candidate special election, including Assemblyman Don Wagner, voters made a strong statement by giving Moorlach over 50 percent of the vote on the first ballot.
We see the same Moorlach in Sacramento as we have in Orange County. In his first nine months, Moorlach led the effort to block a gas tax increase – and won. He’s fought more deficit spending. And he’s exposed waste and excess at Caltrans and agitated for wholesale reform there.
That’s why he’s been called “the fiscal conscience of the state Legislature” by a leading news site.
But none of that matters much to Don Wagner. Last week, he filed to run against Sen. Moorlach once again, this time in the 2016 primary for the seat’s full four-year term.
So, why does Wagner feel the need to challenge a conservative, a Republican, and an incumbent of Moorlach’s stature and put personal ambition before party?
Even worse, Wagner gratefully takes government union money. He’s courting the big union bosses for campaign cash – the same people who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars attacking Moorlach in last year’s Senate special election.
The union bosses want to send the message that any Republican who tries to reform the out-of-control public employee pension system will be their target. And Wagner wants to help them.
Wagner is happy to shed Republican blood. Taxpayers and conservatives will back Moorlach; Wagner will be backed by big government union bosses.
For Wagner, it’s only about Wagner. He’ll force Republicans to spend valuable campaign funds that should be spent elsewhere, winning swing seats to keep Democrats from capturing supermajorities in the state legislature and passing their tax hikes at will. Wagner doesn’t seem to care.
Just about every Orange County Republican elected official and organization supports John Moorlach for re-election to the state Senate. Many of them once endorsed for Don Wagner for Assembly. Now, they are shaking their heads in disappointment.
Don, it’s time: Turn away from the dark side.