Moorlach Leads Big in Senate Reelection Bid

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Abbie DeMuth and Bradley Zint | Special to the NB Indy

Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) and TV broadcaster Vikki Vargas (right) speak to a Moorlach supporter at a Republican Party of Orange County event at CP Restaurant in Newport Beach on Tuesday.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) held a strong lead Thursday over two challengers in his reelection to represent Newport Beach and other coastal Orange County cities in the 37th Senate District.

At a Republican Party of Orange County event at CP Restaurant in Newport Beach on Tuesday, Moorlach discussed the importance of Republican candidates maintaining and retaking seats in the state Senate to counteract the debt generated by the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

“We have to fight for California,” Moorlach said. “We have to give something better to our kids than the amount of debt, pension benefits and all the things we are asking our kids to pay and our grandkids. That’s got to change.”

As of Thursday, Moorlach had captured 49.74% of the voted, trailed by University of California, Irvine, law professor Dave Min and Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley. Foley’s third-place finish so far is seen as a major stumble by observers.

Under California’s primary system, the top two vote-getters will advance to November’s general election.

Moorlach has represented the 37th District since winning a special election for the seat in 2015.

Florence Marie Nelson, a job coach for Westview Services, said Moorlach’s campaign is the first she’s ever volunteered because she wanted to keep Republicans in office. The Tustin resident added that canvassing for him was a good opportunity to meet other people in her city.

“I am not the only one that has stuff going on, some of these people just needed someone to talk to,” Nelson said. “I literally stood in someone’s driveway for an hour and realized we had so much in common.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley speaks to supporters at an election night event on Tuesday.
— Photo by Bradley Zint ©

On Tuesday night, Foley’s supporters were gathered at the Orange County Labor Federation offices in Orange.

In her remarks following the early results, Foley told supporters that she would continue to fight for “values that you all stand for, to make sure that families in Orange County don’t have to work four jobs to pay their rent, to buy groceries and send their kids to school with supplies.”

Foley called her movement “about making sure that everybody gets to feel part of the California and the Orange County dream, not just rich people, but everyone. That is why there is pushback against us. I’m going to remain optimistic tonight.”

Some of Foley’s Costa Mesa neighbors were in attendance to cheer on her campaign.

Terri Fuqua said she thought Foley could help create effective legislation to address sober-living homes, which are prevalent throughout the county and reportedly troublesome for neighborhoods.

“I’ve never seen anybody accomplish so much,” Fuqua said of Foley. “She’s juggling balls in the air and none of them drop.”

Rachel Perry noted Foley’s recent effort to prevent the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa from becoming a quarantine zone for coronavirus patients.

“There’s no one like her,” Perry said. “She’s heads above every other politician. She fights for the people. She’s always thinking about the needs of the community.”

Gilbert Davila, president of the Orange County Labor Federation, said candidates like Foley fight for good-paying jobs so that workers can continue to give back to their communities.

“We need to, more than ever, stick together strategically and organize together to win in November,” he said. “Not just in Washington, D.C., but in the state of California, in our counties, in Orange County, and all the way down to school boards and water boards.”

Foley, an employment attorney whose firm is based in Newport Beach, became Costa Mesa’s first directly elected mayor in 2018 after serving on the City Council and Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education.

Moorlach is a former county supervisor and treasurer-tax collector. He was replaced by Michelle Steel on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Steel is currently in the running for the 48th Congressional District against Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach).

Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) speaks to the crowd at a Republican Party of Orange County event at CP Restaurant in Newport Beach on Tuesday.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
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