Last week I wrote: “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.”
Well it’s a secret no longer. OC Supervisor Shawn Nelson has formally entered the race for for retiring Judge Steven Perk’s seat #40. The Supervisor seems ready to challenge the vaunted “Deputy District Attorney” ballot designation of his primary opponent, prosecutor Larry Yellin.
Yellin, as I pointed out in last weeks post, is a union representative for OC’s public lawyers, which included Deputy District Attorneys, County Counsels (basically OC’s civil and regulatory lawyers) and the Public Defenders who defend indigent criminal defendants.
Expect this to turn into a proxy war between Orange County’s public employee unions and the Orange County GOP. It will be interesting to see who wields the most clout. The fact that judicial elections are supposed to be non-partisan will go out the window in this race. A lot of special interests have a stake in the outcome.
Not only that, but Shawn Nelson and elected District Attorney Tony Rackauckas are thought to be political friends. This presents an interesting challenge for Rackauckas: will he endorse Yellin as one of his own, or go with political norms and endorse Nelson. Or stand back and let them slug it out without his blessing either way?
Possibly lost in this political wrangle might be attorney Frederick Fascenelli, who tossed his iconic stingy-brim fedora into the ring last week. But as Yellin and Nelson go after each other in this race, the prospect of a really non-partisan candidate like Fascenelli may appeal to many voters. Maybe it is time to ditch name recognition and titles and give a candidate like Fascenelli an even break. He has both civil and criminal trial experience, and could bring a needed and artful balance to the work of judge. Everyone I’ve spoken to say Fascenelli is congenial, thoughtful, lacks overbearing ego, and would have an ideal temperament to serve.
More on this race later, but for now,
KEEP IT ON THE QT!