The Irvine Chamber of Commerce is co-sponsoring a candidates forum on April 4 for AD-74 and, if you were to look at the website this morning, it was a Republican only affair…until this morning when we made a call.
This morning, the Chamber’s website promoted the forum, also sponsored by The Lincoln Club, which proudly featured “the candidates for the 74th California State Assembly.” The only candidates mentioned were Newport Beach Councilman Keith Curry, Huntington Beach Mayor Matthew Harper, and Emanuel Petrascu.” There are five candidates for Assembly not three.
Democratic candidates Karina Onofre and Anila Ali weren’t invited, initially, but “invitations were being sent to both candidates this morning,” according to Chamber president Tallia Hart in a phone interview with TheLiberalOC this morning.
“We’ve been working on this (event) for awhile and the two Democrats filed their candidacy papers late,” she said, assuring us that not only both AD-74 Democratic candidates were in the process of being invited as we spoke would be invited but that CD-45 congressional candidate Drew Leavens would also be invited along with Mimi Walters and Greg Raths, to address the audience.
However, Hart’s explanation of Democratic candidates filing candidacy papers late as a reason for excluding them just doesn’t wash.
According to the Orange County Registrar of Voters, the order in which candidates submitted their filing papers might depend on which date you consider and which candidacy designation you select. For example, both Onofre and Petrascu both filed dead last on 3/12 but Onofre wasn’t invited while Petrascu was.
As a public service, we’ve posted every filing date and category for candidacy below.
KARINA “KARINA” ONOFRE
Small Business Owner CANDIDATE STATEMENT
KEITH D. CURRY
Businessman/City Councilmember CANDIDATE STATEMENT
Orange County Business Owner CANDIDATE STATEMENT
Huntington Beach Mayor CANDIDATE STATEMENT
Middle School Teacher
Retired Colonel/Businessman CANDIDATE STATEMENT
California State Senator CANDIDATE STATEMENT
Trustee, Buena Park Library District CANDIDATE STATEMENT
DREW E. LEAVENS
Educator/Businessman CANDIDATE STATEMENT
When Hart returned my call this morning, I mentioned I had just spoken with Ms. Onofre who was planning to crash the event, and Hart said,”well she was a Republican and now she’s a Democrat and what does that say?” I noted for Ms. Hart that Ms. Onofre was a Democrat before registering Republican in 2012 and she registered back as a Democrat for the 2014 elections, but the comment led to our researching the filing dates. Regardless of party affiliation, Ms. Onofre’s filing status places her on par with at least one Republican candidate in the race who’s featured on the graphic above. Hart assures me her staff was busy clearing the attendance of Democratic candidates with the event co-sponsor and contacting the candidates to invite them.
An Update with a comment from Karina Onofre:
“I am not surprised by the disrespect that the Republican Party bestows on minorities and women. It is clear to see in this example, how their chauvinistic ways of not wanting women to lead, led them to exclude me and Ms. Alina Ali from speaking at the forum having a fair time expressing our vision, our qualifications, and our candidacy for State Assembly in the 74th District. It continues to be a “Good Old (White) Boys’ Club” and the women -whether white or of color are not welcomed! I am also disappointed about the partisanship shown on behalf of the leadership at the Irvine Chamber of Commerce because as a small business owner, I make sure I service everyone, because after all, in business, like in politics, it is about serving the people not about serving ourselves. I appreciate the gesture to change their minds and send us an invitation to the forum. I was planning to be there as an inquisitive guest, now I can attend as a speaker. For that, I thank Dan Chmielewski for making it possible.”
We asked if the Irvine Chamber believes its members are Republican only and Ms. Hart was quick to respond Chamber members are from both parties. But when you look at the track record of those elected officials who win the Chamber’s “Legislator of the Year” award, they almost always comes with an R affixed to their names. When he was mayor, Sukhee Kang was presented with a “Business Leader of the Year” award by the Irvine Chamber. But I don’t believe a Democrat has ever been awarded the Chamber’s “Legislator of the Year.”
Before the Democrats were belatedly included and invited (Wednesday, March 19), the Orange County Register’s Opinion Editor Brian Calle had already agreed to moderate the event. Calle and the Register editorial board endorsed exactly one Democrat for office in the 2012 elections – Orange Mayor Tita Smith. The Register’s editorial pages skew from the right to the hard right, so now that Democrats have been invited, we’ll be curious to see the questions Calle throws their way.
The bigger question is why would Calle agree to moderate what was to be an overtly partisan event?