A quirk in my schedule permitted me to attend Tuesday nights California Republican Assembly AD-68 forum at Orange City Hall last night featuring four Republicans running to replace Don Wagner in the assembly. Chris Nguyen over at OC Political has a very, very homogenized play-by-play of the event and you can read it here. To summarize, the US and the State of California are both going to hell in a handbasket and can only be saved by electing conservative candidates to leadership positions (just ignore the economic numbers in the State of California and Nationally that show otherwise). Sometimes, these “forums” are better than stand up comedy shows.
Basically, the candidates all had the same answers to conservative-friendly questions. Say it all in a single breath: Taxes are too high, unions suck, we won’t accept union money or endorsements, public employee pensions are breaking California, parental choice of vaccinations is key, abortion is murder, gas taxes are out of whack, our roads stink, social engineering, common core is awful, climate change is a hoax, everyone needs a concealed weapon, Muslims are terrorists, “illegals” are being served by our tax dollars and must be deported, Liberals suck, Jesus is my personal savior, and I’m the most conservative candidate up here.
The event itself lacked any real heat — political or actual heat (the council chambers were freezing). But when I tell you the candidate who best stood out as poised, articulate, prepared and was best-spoken was former Villa Park council member Deborah Pauly, that fact alone should tell you how out of touch this field of candidates are with what’s known as “real life.”
Every candidate had the same answer for every question. Irvine Mayor Steven Choi was inarticulate, took credit for ideas that came from city staff and positioned himself as the candidate best positioned to “battle liberals” while former Anaheim council member Harry Sidhu hammered that he was the only candidate who’s run a business. Alexia Deligianni-Brydges, Orange Unified School District Trustee, billed herself as pro-business but to be honest, she’s out of her league and her voice wavered it bit either from a lack of confidence or the cold in the room. Pauly was on message, spoke without notes, politely corrected mistakes made by other candidates and pointed out disconnects from answers Choi gave versus an actual vote he made. Again, Pauly was the sharpest knife in the drawer last night.
Choi and Sidhu lead the money race; Pauly has filed her disclosures but likely raised under $25,000. Deligiani-Brydges hasn’t raised much and most of her dough is a loan to herself.
Notes on each candidate:
SIDHU: During Republican presidential debates, if you had a drinking game and did a shot every time Marco Rubio said “and when I’m president…” you’d be calling a ambulance within 30 minutes. Play the same drinking game for Harry Sidhu when he bellows “and I’m the only candidate here that….(fill in the blank). Same result. Sidhu gets caught up calling for tax breaks for everyone and then defending corporate cronyism saying its smart to incentivize some industries to attract them to your city. He talked about all the businesses he’s run over the past 30 years, bragged about all the guns he owns (after whipping out his NRA card), blasted illegal immigration and said we need to send undocumented immigrants back to their countries. And Sidhu took the low road by calling out Pauly for her DUI charge saying “nobody likes you.”
CHOI: The Irvine mayor took credit for Irvine paying down the city’s unfunded pension liability faster but failed to mention he ran with an idea that came from a city staffer. It’s not his. He called on Americans to arm themselves to protect themselves in the wake of the attach in San Bernardino and believes everyone should carry a concealed weapon. He didn’t seem to understand a question about civil asset forfeiture at all but simply echoed the answers from other candidates who went before him. I should point out nobody asked Choi about Corporate Cronyism and Five Point. Choi thinks climate change is a hoax. But his answer for everything was to stimulate small business.
PAULY: Staunchly pro-life arguing that late term and partial-birth abortions were the result of women using abortion as birth control instead of the far more common reason of the health of the mother. Thinks taxes are too high and had the line of the night: “Sacramento is a black hole that’s addicted to money.” Would align herself with State Senator John Moorlach whom she helped get elected to the State Senate to do battle on pensions, unions, and the usual conservative claptrap. Opposes high taxes for anything in addition to fees, such as a city’s business license fee. She criticized Choi for refusing to overturn that policy in Irvine. Again, Pauly was the strongest candidate of the night.
DELIGIANNI-BRYDGES: An immigrant from formerly communist Romania positioned herself as pro-business until Sidhu reclaimed that spot. Agreed with the traditional Republican talking points on every matter. But she seemed to forget it’s a forum and answered questions in the briefest amount of time possible. failed to connect with the 50 or so voters there. She seems in way over her head and my guess is she’s on the ballot to hurt Sidhu’s pro-business position and to hurt Pauly with conservative women. Supports parental choice on vaccinations which is a scary proposition for a school board member.
There’s no Democrat in the race; should one enter, they’d surely finish in the top two. But as far as this crop of candidates goes, I comfort myself knowing they’d be assigned to the kiddie table and would have no real impact on state policy.
Vote for the one you most want out of town.