(Full Disclosure –I’ve already endorsed Keith Carlson for the 74th State Assembly District, so keep that in mind while reading this…)
2010 was the year that Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle should have run for the California State Assembly. We were still in a “Party Primary” system, and there were three so-called Conservative men running for the Republican nomination creating a ripe situation for a very camera-friendly Moderate woman to slip right in. The winner of the Primary would have easily won the General Election in the Republican-heavy 70th Assembly District. 2010 was made for Leslie.
2012? So far, it’s a completely different situation for her, although depending on who else jumps into the race, it could turn much more favorable for Leslie.
Because of the Summer of Re-Districting, the newly created 74th Assembly District will include half of Huntington Beach, about 58% of Irvine, and all of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Laguna Woods and Laguna Beach, essentially writing out Newport Beach’s current Assemblyman Don Wagner into another District. Written into Newport was the current 68th District Assemblyman, and former Costa Mesa Mayor, Allan Mansoor. While the newly created 74th only includes 23% of his current Assembly District, Allan is pinning his hopes on Costa Mesa to carry him through to the finish line.
Also jumping into the 74th Assembly District race will be Huntington Beach resident and former California Republican Party Treasurer Keith Carlson. In his year-old campaign, Keith has already raised more than $100,000 and has already earned most, if not all, of the Republican State Legislators’ endorsements, although most of them were garnered BEFORE the final lines were drawn, when Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa in separate districts.
So what are Leslie’s chances like right now? The total population of the District is 468,188 with Newport Beach’s 85,186 residents only being about 18 percent of the total. Because Leslie’s been elected twice in Newport Beach, it’s very safe to assume that her name ID is high here, however that doesn’t mean everyone in Newport Beach will vote for her. In her first re-election bid in 2006, she garnered only 55.2 percent of the vote running against…essentially nobody since her opponent, Barbara Venezia, had dropped out of the race a month before the election. In 2010, running against Mark Tabbert, who spent around $1,000; she received a relatively tepic 62.8 percent of the votes, so winning Newport Beach is not a given.
Mansoor is counting on his Costa Mesa roots to carry him through. However, out of Costa Mesa’s 109,960 residents, he only received 7,617 votes in 2002 and 10,122 votes in 2006. While his name ID is high in Costa Mesa, it only amounts to 23 percent of the District, and only 10 percent of Costa Mesa’s total residents voted for him in his re-election bid, so Allan carrying Costa Mesa isn’t a given either.
Keith Carlson is unknown in all the Cities involved and he’s never been elected to a City Council. But that may prove to be to his advantage, considering all the baggage that is typically included with being on a City Council.
So basically with Newport Beach “claimed” by Leslie and Costa Mesa “claimed” by Allan, the race will come down to the 93,866 residents in Huntington Beach (where all three are relative unknowns) and Irvine’s (where all three are definitely unknown) 140,261 residents.
Huntington Beach will come down to money and mail. While Leslie has built a sturdy reputation as an Environmentalist, the part of Huntington Beach that is included in the 74th AD is not the environmentalist part, so she will not be able to rely on that. The Costa Mesa/Huntington Beach relationship has been fair, however with all the Anti-Incumbent sentiment because of the dysfunctional Sacramento government, Allan’s Incumbent ballot designation won’t carry it’s normal weight. As a resident of Huntington Beach, and with Huntington Beach’s current Assemblyman Jim Silva firmly in Carlson’s corner, I would have to give him the edge to win that City.
Irvine is going to be the key. With its 140,261 residents, whoever wins Irvine will probably win the race. The past THREE Assemblymen (John Campbell, Chuck DeVore, and Don Wagner) were all Irvine residents. So how do you think a Newport Beach City Councilmember will do with Irvine? How many times has Newport Beach sued Irvine since Leslie’s been on the City Council? How effective will an El Toro International Airport mailer be to hit Leslie? Leslie’s chances in Irvine appear to be very slim. And while Allan is relatively unknown there as well, his Anti-Illegal Immigration stance probably won’t sit too well with an ethnic population, since some have called Costa Mesa’s actions, while Allan was Mayor, racist. Keith’s business background and lack of City Council baggage might serve him well in Irvine, but winning Irvine will again come down to money and mail.
So there you go. Because of the Newport Beach/Irvine relationship, Leslie’s current chances of taking the 74th Assembly District seat are going to be rough. Her only chance will be if that perfect storm re-develops, like it did in 2010, where a known Irvine Councilman ran against a known Tustin Councilman and an Irvine attorney. This time, all three combatants are unknown in Irvine and her only hope is if another Conservative male jumps into the race to effectively split that vote. Until that happens, the District will be completely up for grabs.
As it stands right now, the candidate who raises the most money will win the race. Let the games begin…