This is something I truly believe as a mantra, “It’s never too early,” so much so that I already wrote about the 2012 City Council election, more than a year ago.
To recap: Newport Beach City Councilman Steve Rosansky terms out in 14 months, after almost a decade of service to the City. While his tenure as Councilman has been relatively quiet, one might recall his year as Mayor in 2007 as pretty tumultuous; between his battle in the Press with Councilman Keith Curry, to the Sober Living Home explosions leading to the disclosure that Rosansky had been leasing a property to a Rehab Operator. That year resulted in TWO consecutive terms as Mayor for the very calm, very mild-mannered Ed Selich in order to effectively settle the City down.
So I’ve been speculating for the past year on the cast of characters who could throw their hat into the ring to run for the District 2 City Council seat when it finally opens up in 2012, with no incumbent in the race for the first time since 2000. Now, with the new redistricting taking out two potential powerhouse candidates, the field has been left open for a new batch of contenders jumping in.
Well the first one has officially jumped in.
Enter Tony Petros. He’s been on the Bicycle Safety Committee for the past year, a Traffic Engineer as a profession, but most importantly has already hired a high-powered consultant, Dennis DeSnoo, to guide him through Newport Beach’s politics. My first meeting with Tony was supposed to be a get-to-know you type of meeting, but with Dennis’ presence, it quickly turned into a political strategy discussion. Tony has already gathered some pretty high-profile endorsements with former City Employee-for-life and Councilmember Don Webb and Rosansky himself showing Tony around town. With all that preceding him, it seems pretty evident that Tony is the heir apparent for District 2.
Tony seemed like a nice guy and I look forward to chatting with him more, however he wasn’t the one who made the biggest impression on me. It was Dennis’ presence at the meeting that struck me as fascinating. While I am very much aware that the candidate is supposed to be the newsworthy item, over the past two decades, the candidates’ choices of political consultants have come to make more news, initially than the candidates themselves. From Dave Ellis’ penchant for negative campaigns to Brandon Powers coming out of the gates in 2010 with an Anti-Allergan/animal cruelty telephone push poll, it’s been very interesting to follow what the Consultant will do first. And humorous to see the candidates blaming their consultants for any questionable items.
Now, Ellis has been Newport Beach’s resident kingmaker, acting as the Political Consultant to the majority of Councilmembers for the past two decades, starting with Tod Ridgeway, and leading to Steve Rosansky (the first re-election), Leslie Daigle, Keith Curry, Ed Selich, and Michal Henn. At one point, six of the seven Councilmembers on the Newport Beach City Council owed their seats to Ellis. But Rush Hill’s 2010 election win – over Ellis-guided Ed Reno – was orchestrated by up and coming powerhouse Powers, and now DeSnoo will be handling his second Newport Beach City Council candidate (his first being Rosansky’s 2008 re-election campaign) in recent memory.
So who is Dennis DeSnoo? Apparently, he’s the Democratic equivalent of Dave Ellis and considered one of Orange County’s most established political consultants, working most recently for Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, Fullerton Councilman Don Bankhead, Anaheim Councilmember Kris Murray, and Laguna Niguel’s Councilman Robert Ming and Mayor Linda Lindholm. All winning their elections.
With DeSnoo on board, it’s quite obvious that Tony is coming out guns blazing, starting early in an effort to grab all of Newport’s major endorsements.
Who are the other potential candidates?
AirFair Board member Gloria Alkire is still in the mix, as is Orange County Water District Board Member Steve Sheldon. Former Planning Commissioner Scott Peotter is considering a move into the newly re-districted District 2, but most recently told me that such a move was still not definite.
This District 2 City Council race has the potential to be very expensive if Alkire and Sheldon jump in to oppose Petros (and DeSnoo, but it’s still very early.
But not too early.