The 74th Assembly District race was further roiled this week by the entry of Newport Beach community activist Bob Rush, who changed his party registration to Democratic just prior to filing his candidacy and said he will jump-start his campaign with $100,000 of his own money.
Barely a few months old in its current configuration, the 74th AD has already provided a large dose of political drama: The new lines make some 80 percent of the district new to Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), one Republican challenger has already quit the race under pressure from the county party, which then controversially endorsed Mansoor over the other challenger, Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle, also a Republican.
Rush’s entry as a Democrat appears to scramble Daigle’s hopes. She was seen as having more appeal to Democrats and independents in the heavily Republican district than the very conservative Mansoor, and seemed to be counting on those votes plus Republican votes from her Newport Beach base to carry her past the incumbent.
In an interview Thursday, Rush acknowledged that his candidacy likely will hurt Daigle’s chances, but said that is one of the reasons he’s running.
He noted his long involvement in the community effort against drug rehab homes in the city, and said he had been “dismissed and disrespected” by Daigle almost from the start of that effort. The possibility of being represented by her in the Assembly, he said, was a motivating factor in his decision to run.
Indeed, he came out with guns blazing this week.
“She’s a roundly disrespected politician, as evidenced by being repeatedly passed over for mayor by her own City Council peers,” he said in an initial statement announcing his candidacy. That statement had little to say about Mansoor.
For her part, Daigle had this to say about Rush’s entry into the race: “I don’t know much about him, but I don’t think voters will be electing someone without a public policy record to the Legislature.”
Rush explained his last minute re-registration from decline to state by saying that on a range of issues, his ideas make him a “moderate Democrat.”
Some observers have noted OC Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh’s involvement in a notorious election scandal in which Republicans recruited a sham Democratic candidate in a special election to dilute moderate votes and get a conservative elected, and wondered if similar machinations are involved in the 74th AD.
Rush dismissed that notion, saying “the idea that I would be a puppet for anyone who supported the rehab homes is ridiculous and distasteful.”