Some Other Reflections (Part II)

Here are my final comments to anyone who is interested. They are my ‘Fly on the Wall’ observations concerning the Tuesday (Feb 6) Special. I will probably piss some people off, but after the finger pointing, calling for heads, etc. it is time to move on.

The DPOC did more in this ‘Special’ than it has ever done in the past. Frank Barbaro has done more to move this party forward than any other Chair in my memory. For anyone who thinks they can do better AND raise the funds to continue with professionalization, please come forward now. It is a thankless job, when things go right, no one thanks you. When things go wrong, you are the first to be blamed. This is what I call, “The Joy of Leadership”.

The reason Umberg was drafted was based on a poll by labor. Personally, I like Tom as many of our people do. The DPOC went with labor because there was a need to be united and this poll showed Tom (warts and all) at the top. Regrettably, the ‘Nguyen’ factor was not included in this poll. I think Mark got a pretty raw deal, unfortunately, this poll showed Mark in single digits and as much as I like Mark, I was not convinced he could pull it off. An Umberg (Labor) – Rosen (DPOC) feud would have been far worse for Tom, Mark, Labor and the Party. Benny, I love you too, and to Larry, I wish we could have done more for you (In pure hindsight, we should have).

I will probably be lynched at the next Drinking Liberally for saying this, but I thought Claudia Alvarez might have had a good shot at it. I guess not as good as Tom per the poll, but her run might have motivated more Latinos to come out and vote. I will add that if you remove the two Nguyens, the order of the pack followed that poll.

I believe we were right to stick with labor (concerns about our choice and all that went along with it). When the VBM returns began to post by Matt at Red County, the writing was on the wall and it was too late to make any adjustment. Bear in mind that Bustamonte’s consultant; John Lewis was unable to do so either. The DPOC staff (hired from Correa’s Senate Campaign) worked their ‘you know whats’ off and I think, did a great job.

In conclusion, it is time to get out and register Democrats in Central Orange County Period. The Republicans have not gotten over losing Central OC 10 years ago. Our issues are the right issues – Health Care, Education and Good Jobs. We certainly don’t need bounty hunters to switch people and we do not have to demonize anyone to get out the vote. We Can Do It!!!

  24 comments for “Some Other Reflections (Part II)

  1. February 18, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Well, I certainly agree that we need to register more Dems in Central County. And yes, we need to stick with strong candidates and strong messages that appeal to Latino and Asian-American voters here. We already have the strong message of good education, good jobs, and good neighborhoods…
    We just need to keep working on doing a better job at convey that good message.

    : )

  2. Fred Smoller
    February 19, 2007 at 2:23 am

    I think the labor poll asked all the right questions, but of the wrong 400 people (or “universe.”). The lesson of the 2004 City of Irvine City Council race was that ethnic block voting will trump party label, issue position, and candidate ID. The 2004 race was a bitter race that broke down mostly along party lines (Shea v. Agran). Tons of money was spent on direct mail trying to convince voters to vote for one of two slates: the the Great Park Team (Krom, Agran, Kang) and the Irvine First (Ward, Shea, Kang) Teams. However, BOTH Suhkee Kang (D) and Steven Choi (R) were elected. Their presence on the ballot attracted Asian voters to the polls. The lesson of this race, then, was that the Asian community needed to be oversampled for the 1st district race. Had this been done, I believe the results of the poll and the political strategy upon which they were based would have been different.

  3. Fred Smoller
    February 19, 2007 at 2:30 am

    Excuse me…the second team was Ward, Shea, and Choi. And, yes, I do agree that Frank, Mike, and the OCDC party have done a wonderful job. 🙂

  4. Morning Coffee
    February 19, 2007 at 10:46 am

    I think Fred’s point is well taken Everyone underestimated the power of the two Vietnamese candidates to bring out that community in such staggering numbers. Others have suggested that Janet & Trung represent different ideologies, and that’s what caused the massive turnout. That may be true to some extent, but I still believe that having one (or two) of their own running, and the voter contact their campaigns did, was the main factor.

    We can all speculate on what might have happened had there been a more acceptable Hispanic candidate from Santa Ana. Or if some of the Anglo candidates would not have run. Those issues certainly might have changed the outcome, but not the level of Vietnamese turnout. The new question is, how will that turnout be effected if there is no Vietnamese candidate?

  5. Fred Smoller
    February 19, 2007 at 11:55 am

    I think the next question is, how can this seat be re-taken in 2008? I hope all the groups that purchased polls will save the actual data sets so more precise post-election analysis can be done. It is clear, however, that, as the OCR reported today in the Buzz column, 96% of the Vietnamese voters, voted for one of the Vietnamese candidates, according to Chris Collete, a UCI, Ph.D.

  6. Alicia
    February 19, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Thank you, Susan! We DEFINITELY need to be focusing on Central OC and in the Vietnamese Community. I can positively assume the Reps will be. We shouldn’t be focusing on Irvine. I think Councilmember Agran and company are doing a fine job in south county. Let’s focus on the 34th, 47th, 68th and 69th.

  7. February 19, 2007 at 12:34 pm


    While I agree we need to dedicate some, if not the majority, of our focus on the areas you indicated (including the 1st Supervisor District); we would be short sighted to ignore opportunities to expand our base outside of Central OC. With the rise of DTS voters throughout the county, I believe we do have opportunities elsewhere in the county as well.

    I believe that there are things that can be done to secure our existing seats in central county. Those are best funded and directed by those like Loretta and Lou who, as you have previously indicated, have been successful in outreach to the communities in those districts. As you know elected officials have a much greater ability to raise funds to protect their seats. They should use that ability to stregnthen their positions and support the distribution of limited party resources to other areas of the county in addition to the areas you have identified.

    I have got to believe that it is not your position that the only place where Democrats should do outreach is central county.

  8. Susan Freeze
    February 19, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    I believe the 1st priority is holding our own. PERIOD. I do not believe that is lost on Frank, Mike, Melahat, etc.

    We can and should look into other areas. Believe me, there are several potential areas on the table. Make the opposition spend money outside of central county.

    Although we have given help to Irvine, Larry has done a great job, I think we were right to give a helping hand there. – I am not sure what happens there in the future.

    We all want it for our own area.

  9. February 19, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    The 34th Senate district holds about 25% of the registered democrats in the County. Rightly, there is a need to maintain that seat in Democratic hands.

    However it should be noted, since Alicia mentioned that Irvine is a place where we should not outreach, the in the November general election Democrat Beth Krom pulled 59.6% of the vote. This in a city with a Democratic registration of 29.14% vs. a 42.36% Republican registration. I see this as a success and reaching out to that community promoting the ideas offered by Democratic candidates is in the interest of building our Party’s base and appeal to DTS and other voters.

    I do not believe that it is in the best interests of the Party to focus all of its efforts on 25 -30% of the registered Democrats in the County and ignore the rest.

    I do not believe that the Democratic Party of Orange County should be confined to “its place” in central OC.

  10. February 19, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Chris, Susan; I have to agree with Alicia. ANy resources spent in Irvine would be a waste. The Larry Agran machine in that City has done a fine job over the years and will continue to do so. I thik any efforst by the DPOC in Irvine might actually harm any effort to maintain a Democratic majority in Irvine. There has beenmuch speculation about the “Vietnamese population in Irvine and the outreacvh we need to do there. Well here is my assessment of that;

    Every Vietnamese voter in Irvine I have spoken with (and there have been many) of all ages says that they will not or have not voeted for a Vietnamese Candidate. They state that they left the Central OC area for Irvine MV NPB etc to get away from the shenanigans inherint in Little Saigon. Thats the real reason John Duong lost so badly in Irvine even with the backing of Godfather Frank Jao. John Wu in Newport Beach faced the same problem while being backed and promoted by Van Tran.

    This notion of keeping Irvine Blue is a real Red Herring. Irvine has been blue and will stay blue for years to come. That is evident in the last election. Even Republicans like the way things are going in that city and vote for the proper candidates to keep it that way (Agran, Krom, Kang). We are about to lose A dem on the GG council (Rosen) we need to get two more Dems on that council to turn GG back to blue.

  11. Dan Chmielewksi
    February 19, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Paul — I wouldn’t portray its as the Agran Machine in Irvine. Beth Krom is well respected and is popular among voters here; she’s been the top vote getter than last three elections. I’ve been to one of Larry’s launch parties. Its’ not all that different from any other political event. You sign in. You write a check if you can. You get a sandwich and sign up for the block you will walk. Its very grassroots yes; a machine, no.

  12. February 19, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    For the record, if I were Queen for a Day I would focus our efforts as a party on building a strong farm team on school boards and city councils. The focus on that would be in Garden Grove, Westminster, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Orange, Newport Beach, and Laguna Niguel to name a few places to start.

    We must spread out beyond central county if we ever hope to build the party throughout the county. While we need to protect our “turf” we must also grow our base beyond the 25% of registered Democrats that live in central county.

    We do this by city, not by Assembly, Senate, and Congressional districts. If we focus on that we will indeed be throwing our money away. Currently the 68th Assembly seat is out of reach unless we can, in addition to increasing Democratic registration, build a strong Democratic candidate to mount a credible challenge to take the seat when Van Tran is termed out.

    You can say that Irvine is safe, but it is not as safe as the 69th AD, the 47th CD, or the 34th SD. You also cannot say that resources have not been poured into the 34th SD to rebuild registration and push Democratic turnout. That money came from the state party and the Senate Dems. A great portion of the effort came from the Democratic Party of Orange County as well.

  13. February 19, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Dan, duly noted. My premise is that Irvine is in good hands. The DPOC has never actually engaged in irvine in the past because historically there has not been a fight to fight in Irvine. The fight is in Central OC. Thats where the Repos spend their money and thats where we should engage them. Irvine is a safe area for Democrats and the Core of our registration is in jepordy of being overran by Reps.

    I know that there is a lot of speculation that the Great Park is the prize to be had in an Irvone race but I just dont see the logic in that. I work for the head engineering firm designing and buildiing the Great Park. To be honest I dont see how the Great Park is in Jeapordy. Nor do I see how the elected Democrats are in jeapordy in relation to the Great Park. So why start a fight when there is no fight to fight I say.

  14. Anonymous
    February 19, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    There are major problems with this idea of bench-building at the City Council level. First is that these are non-partisan office, and the best public servants in these offices will be far more interested in doing a good job than in building the hapless OC Democratic party or the Republican party for that matter. Do any of the successful electeds in the county, Agran, Krom, Choi, Cook, Hardy, Rosen, Pulido, et cetera, actively participate in OC Dem politics?

    Second, is the general ineffectiveness of the party, and its lack of loyalty to any local candidate. The party turned its back on the local bench in Rosen, and backed carpetbagger Umberg.

    Third is the problem of the public employees unions. In Huntington Beach, police and fire unions supported the most odious of the Republicans, and the public employees unions are adversaries for all local officials, and carrying a lot of baggage because of the public’s disdain for their overly generous pensions.

    What benefit would a candidate get from associating with the OC Democratic party? Candidates are much better off cultivating the environmentalists, where they can do some good and get some willing foot soldiers.

  15. Anonymous
    February 19, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    More specifically, what did the OC Democratic party do for Flossie Horgan and Joe Shaw in Huntington Beach? Two great candidates running against some awful candidates. How much money came from the party, how many mailers, how many walkers?

  16. February 19, 2007 at 5:41 pm


    We have a bit of a problem here.

    You want the Democratic Party to spend money on candidates but you advocate that people should not give to the party because it is of no value to local candidates.

    You cannot have support provided by the Democratic Party of OC if people do not support the Democratic Party of OC. We can argue all day about whether or not Rosen could have won. I do not believe he could, and his ID among voters outside of Garden Grove was too low to bank on in a 6 week campaign. further, a good portion of Mark Rosen’s support in his two Council elections came from Vietnamese voters. Those voters would not vote for him over a Vietnamese candidate.

    If you want a political party to be relevant it needs to be able to play in the game. That takes money. Frank Barbaro has raised a lot of it for individual candidates and the DPOC.

    Unless you’re willing to pony up or help raise the money, then you really just want something to complain about or someone to bash. It is easy to take pot shots from the sidelines, it takes a bit more effort and hard work to do the job.

  17. Publius
    February 19, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    I don’t think anyone is saying to ignore areas outside of Central OC. The Supervisorial Election and Lou’s squeaker over Daucher in SD 34 show the need to shore up Central OC for Democrats.
    It seems to me that the logical place to move ONCE Central OC is SECURED is northward – Fullerton, Brea, Placentia, Stanton, Buena Park, Cypress, La Palma, and Orange. Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Tustin, and San Juan Capistrano make as much (or more) sense as Irvine.
    As for Chris’ assertion that future efforts to secure the seats in Central OC should be funded and directed by Lou and Loretta, they have ALREADY been doing this for nearly 10 years now! Isn’t it time for the County Party (which has access to different pots of money and much higher contribution limits than federal candidates) to take over responsibility for party-building activities (registration, vote by mail programs, recruitment and assistance to local candidates, etc.)? I think it’s LONG overdue.
    And, Chris, what did your buddy Mr. Umberg do in his time in the Assembly to direct state Democratic resources to fund efforts in OC? Very little, as I recall. I believe it is one more example of reaping what you sow.

  18. February 19, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    At any rate, Irvine is not the battleground. Irvine is in good hands. Amy resources energy effoprst outside of the local AD committtee spent in irvine would be a waste.

  19. Anonymous
    February 19, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    “You want the Democratic Party to spend money on candidates but you advocate that people should not give to the party because it is of no value to local candidates”.

    No Chris, I say that people should give money to good progressive local candidates and support them very actively, as I do, very actively and not from the sidelines. It’s just that most of these candidates find the Democratic Party of OC useless, toothless, and too heavily dominated by the county employees.

    People need to support good local candidates not because they are Democrats, but because they will make good school board members or council members. That’s the biggest flaw in your silliness about bench building.

    Do you ever wonder why the number of DTS voters is growing so rapidly, and why our new post-partisan people’s governor beat the Angelides so badly? And you want to emulate the Republicans’ bench building?

  20. February 19, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    “As for Chris’ assertion that future efforts to secure the seats in Central OC should be funded and directed by Lou and Loretta, they have ALREADY been doing this for nearly 10 years now!”

    Publius, what I said is: “I believe that there are things that can be done to secure our existing seats in central county. Those are best funded and directed by those like Loretta and Lou who, as you have previously indicated, have been successful in outreach to the communities in those districts. As you know elected officials have a much greater ability to raise funds to protect their seats.”

    And then I said: “You can say that Irvine is safe, but it is not as safe as the 69th AD, the 47th CD, or the 34th SD. You also cannot say that resources have not been poured into the 34th SD to rebuild registration and push Democratic turnout. That money came from the state party and the Senate Dems. A great portion of the effort came from the Democratic Party of Orange County as well.”

    Just to clarify. When was it that Loretta or Lou funded those efforts? I seem to recall that the latest was funded by the State Party and the Senate Dems, and if I’m not mistaken they funded the prior effort in 2002. Please correct me if I’m wrong here.

  21. Northcountystorm
    February 20, 2007 at 12:19 am

    Democrats need to support Democrat LEO’s who are under frequent heavy fire from well-orchestrated GOP attack campaigns. ultimately, people will , as a poster above notes, support a council or school board candidate because they wil be good in office, not just because they are a Democrat or a Republican. But the Dem party wil need to support the Dem candidates where possible.

    The Dems are hardly controlled by the county employees–this is the first election that one could say that the Party followed the lead of OCEA & the AOCDS. But they do work closely with labor and most local elected officials I know have no problem with that at all. And toothless? hardly. Thats the Republican Party of San Francisco.

  22. Northcountystorm
    February 20, 2007 at 12:39 am

    Last time I looked they were called the Democratic Party of Orange County, not the Democratic Party of Central Orange County. They have an obligation to make at least some efforts throughout the County to communicate the Democratic agenda and support Democratic candidates. A vote in Costa Mesa and yes, even in Irvine, is as important to Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein as a vote in Garden Grove.

    Saying that Irvine or La Habra or Costa mesa should be ignored because they are in the good hands of Larry, Beth, Sukhee, Rose and Katrina is like saying Dems should ignore the Central OC because they are in the good hands of Loretta, Lou and Jose. You have to provide support or these folks will not be able top hold off the GOP pogrom forever.

    But I agree the Central OC should be the focus. As Barbaro continues to strengthen the party it should help provide extra resources for areas ouside the Democratic heartland. if resources are scarce, the Central OC should have the priority, no question. It starts with better communication with Loretta, Lou and Jose who have electoral scoreboard in the area and whom need to be involved in the decisionmaking as well as the fundraising. They are the leaders and they need to engage labor and the Party with their leadership.

    There is plenty of credit to go around about voter reg and GOTV activities. Historically, the Assembly and Senate caucuses have generated the most resources for that activity in the central OC. loretta has directly and indirectly made a big difference using slightly different tactics given federal election laws. Umberg, contrary to the revisionst post above, did bring significant state Dem resources into the area in his first two races. His last assembly race, true enough, little came this way from Sacramento. But if fingers should be pointed, look primarily to Fabian, who took a walk from the district after Tom beat Fabians candidate, Claudia. or point at Perata who didn’t step in knowing that the assembly was doing nothing.

    The future is bright. Loretta, Lou and Jose are strong and the Party is in its best shape in memory. the 1st SD was a tough loss but lots of lessons learned and with better teamwork and better turnout, 2008 looks good for the Dems.

  23. February 20, 2007 at 12:50 am

    Well said Norhtcountystorm

  24. Dan Chmielewski
    February 20, 2007 at 10:56 am

    I say we take a tip from Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy. Every race is a competitive one. Irvine is never a safe bet for progressives.

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