Andrew Do has been sworn in to Janet Nguyen’s old seat as First District Supervisor on the heels of a 43 vote margin of victory over former State Senator Lou Correa. It’s a win for Little Saigon, Orange County’s Asian Community which has a majority on the County BoS, and State Senator Janet Nguyen who is reshaping Orange County politics in what should be a Democratic district.
Less than 23% of the registered voters bothered to vote in this election. From the press release from the ROV:
Total turnout from the election was 22.6% with 19% of voters casting their ballot by mail and 3.5% of voters voting in their polling place. In the 2007 First District Special Election overall turnout was 22.4%, vote-by-mail voting was 17.3% and polling place voting was 5.1%.
With the results of the November election and this special election, you might say the big losers here are Correa and former Assembly representative Jose Solorio. There’s plenty of whispering that both men were not served well by their campaign consultants and followed some bad advice from those who overpromised voter registration efforts and GOTV drives, but the problem might be bigger than that. It’s almost as if the large Latino voting base in Santa Ana just didn’t care enough to turn out in force.
It appears that Democratic Vietnamese voters stuck with Lou. The OC Labor Fed did their job and got people to the polls for Lou. Latino voters in Santa Ana just didn’t come out (and some even seemed unaware of that the special election was going on).
Solorio loses to Nguyen for Correa’s old State Senate seat; voter turnout in Santa Ana is terrible. In 2010, Santa Ana voters failed to propel Julio Perez or Michele Martinez into the top two in the AD-69 race won easily by Tom Daly of Anaheim on the strength of great voter turnout in Anaheim (Daly did better than all the Democratic Latino/Latina candidates on the ballot). Had it been a shoot-out between Do and Correa, Do would have gotten the lion’s share of Republican Chris Phan’s votes and the margin of victory likely much higher. In the last Anaheim city election, Latino voters failed to propel Dr. Jose Moreno to the city council. Even if voters confused Dr. Moreno with Republican Jose “Joe” Moreno, the combined votes of both men where still well short. Latinos could elect Latinos, but they haven’t.
In speaking with a Democratic political consultant earlier this week, it’s high time to find out why Latino voters tend to sit out elections during non-presidential years. Rather than the DPOC funding a possible expensive recount of the Do-Correa election, with scare money and scare resources, perhaps it’s more homework that’s needed in the form of focus groups to learn what obstacles exist to getting Latino voters to the polls. If the DPOC is going to shell out money in the wake of Do-Correa, it should be to find out why Latino voters don’t vote in elections, and what can be done to get them to the polls or vote by mail.
Is it a lack of knowledge of a special election or the candidates running for office? If some of these working class voters can’t get to the polls, should they be taught/shown how to get and properly complete an absentee ballot? Do GOTV efforts require Uber-like ride share services to get voters to the polls?
Aside from the all-Latino Santa Ana City Council, Santa Ana’s next highest office holder of Latina heritage is Loretta Sanchez in Congress. That’s it. Santa Ana, which should have significant political clout in country and statewide offices, has practically none.
So how can this trend change? I’m open to your suggestions.
In chatting with Republicans at last week’s Drinking Liberally at Skosh Monahan’s, we asked about Chris Phan’s future in the OC GOP. The answer came back “what future?” At the time, the race was not yet decided and it was highly possible Correa could have squeaked by. Republicans said that without Phan in the race, Do wins going away based on Viet voter turnout. Phan can likely count on next to no GOP support in future runs for office.