Senior OC homicide prosecutor Mike Murray has made no secret of his judicial ambitions. He started campaigning early, even without word of a definite seat. His banners have been spotted all over OC at some of the busiest intersections and freeway onramps. His latest coup was getting a big “Murray for Judge” banner up on Mike Harrah’s tall green fence on Main Street in Santa Ana that surrounds Harrah’s stalled “tallest building in OC” construction project. But Murray lucked out, as he filed for freshly open seat # 49 on Monday, given up for election by Judge Elaine Streger.
But two more seats opened up for election as well: Judge Gail Andler’s seat #3 and Judge Steven Perk’s seat #40. Not surprisingly several candidates have pulled papers entering the starting gate for both races.
Judge Andler has endorsed Deputy District Attorney Scott Zidbeck for her seat, but that hasn’t kept challengers at bay. Colleague and now opponent Deputy District Attorney Megan Wagner has filed for the seat. Wagner is the wife of well-respected Republican Assemblyman Don Wagner (who is termed out of the Assembly this year). Wagner’s press release claimed to have $100K in her campaign war chest already, no doubt including a healthy cash infusion from her husband. This will complicate an endorsement from DA Tony Rackauckas, who usually supports his minions in judicial contests.
Local criminal defense lawyer (and sometimes civil counsel) Frederick Fascenelli has also pulled papers for this race, but my sources tell me Fascenelli will jump horses midstream to another race, and he has simultaneously pulled papers for Judge Perk’s seat #40.
Judge Perk has also endorsed a candidate, Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin, a well-known union guy for the county’s lawyers that includes not only prosecutors but OC’s county counsels and public defenders. Does that mean Yellin can expect union support, endorsements and money? You betcha.
This is the race attorney Facinelli is expected to land on. Fascenelli is an affable guy, known around the courthouses for wearing his trademark stingy-brim fedoras. I’m told Fascenelli once conducted some successful breast-implant malpractice litigation, so he brings criminal and civil experience to the stable. His wife is Diana Fascenelli, former Mayor and current City Councilwoman for Villa Park.
Word on the street is that there may be a third not-so-dark-horse candidate to jump into the race for Perk’s seat. All I will say about this surprise candidate now is that he already has racked up a lot of experience in government service and knows how to campaign.
It is early yet, and still more candidates might saddle up for this ride too, from both the prosecutor’s office and from the civil bar. Any Court Commissioners ready to elevate electorally?
More on these races… but for now
Keep it on the QT!