More than 75 people filled the main room of Bistro 400 in Santa Ana on Thursday night for the regular meeting of the Orange County Young Democrats. They were there to consider early endorsements in 2012 Orange County legislative races. Several current and former elected officials were there to seek endorsement or offer support to other candidates.
Three Congressional and two Assembly contests were up for early endorsement consideration. The majority were there for Julio Perez in the 69th AD. Wearing Perez for Assembly stickers on their shirts they cheered loudly when he arrived. Frank Barbaro, Democratic Party of Orange County Chair, leaned over to me and said, “looks like Julio’s supporters have stacked the meeting.” He added, “I’m here to encourage no endorsement in the 69th because all of the candidates are good.”
A few moments earlier Santa Ana resident Francisco J. Barragan had arrived and announced he was entering the 69th AD race. “After seeing the other candidates I think I have something unique to offer,” said Barragan. “I wanted to have all the pieces of my campaign in place before announcing, but this meeting pushed up my announcement.”
Barragan is a local commmunity activist, naturalized citizen, CPA, Certified Internal Auditor, and Commander of a local veterans association. He said he hopes to break gridlock in Sacramento and return to the business of effective and sustainable governance in a non-partisan way.
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and State Senator Alan Lowenthal were their to ask for the OCYD endorsement in their Congressional races. Former State Senator Joe Dunn was there to support Julio Perez, and Anaheim Union High School District Trustee Jordan Brandman was there in support of Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly for Assembly.
The candidates seeking endorsement presented their cases for endorsement, beginning with Congresswoman Sanchez, followed by Senator Lowenthal. Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang was unable to attend at the last minute and his request for endorsement was presented by OCYD Chair Nick Anas. Party activist Jim Benson spoke on behalf of Joseph Dovinh, the only Democrat running in the 72nd Assembly district.
For the 69th AD, all four candidates were given five minutes to state their case for endorsement followed by up to two other people to speek on their behalf. Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly spoke first.
Daly said that the best indicator of the right candidate is their past experience, promises kept, and accomplishments. Daly focused on his experience from more than ten years ago as Mayor of Anaheim. Towards the end of his remarks, he took an interesting position in light of the comment Frank Barbaro made earlier. He suggested, on the verge of pleading with the club, to support as individuals the candidates they wish, but not make any endorsement in the 69th AD. “Endorsing one candidate over three others in this race may be a mistake,” Daly said. “It is best to remain neutral.”
Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez followed with the same argument as Daly for no endorsement in the race. “At the end of the day, whoever wins will be fine,” Martinez said. “Come on board Team Martinez and on to victory.”
Francisco Barragan introduced himself to the club and asked for their support after highlighting his community, business, and government experience. “I know many of you have already made up your minds,” Barragan said. “But look at my campaign as we move forward.”
Julio Perez disagreed with the premise that all of the candidates would be good progressive Democrats. “Our party is divided,” Perez said. “My opponents represent the establishment and the one percent. I’m here to represent change. I’m here to represent you.
“I’m tired of candidates coming to us saying they’re Democrats but not voting that way,” Perez said. “You need to choose wisely whose side you’re on. I’m here to ask for your endorsement. I’m here to recruit trouble makers to make Orange County better. The bottom line is that you should follow your heart, because taking no position is often worse than taking the wrong position.”
The results of the vote weren’t even close. In the uncontested races of Sanchez, Lowenthal, Kang, and Dovinh the club granted its endorsement.
“I’m honored to have the support of the Orange County Young Democrats,” said Rep. Sanchez. “I’m always empowered to see our young people involved and committed to the electoral process – it is so important and inspiring. Democrats are committed to enriching the lives of our youth by making college more affordable, improving access to healthcare, and improving our economy. I look forward to working with OCYD over the next few months in support of our shared vision for the future and the best interests of Orange County.”
In the 69th, 80% of the votes (41) went for Perez, 8.2% (4) for Daly, 2.13% (2) for Martinez, and four abstentions.
Here’s the link to the OCYD video of Candidate remarks posted on their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10100203734226771&saved