[cross-posted from our partner site, OC Political]
With Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) leaving the Legislature to run for Governor, Democrats are making a play for the 72nd Assembly District seat that Allen is vacating. Campaign finance reports for all candidates were released yesterday for the period ending December 31, 2017. Josh Lowenthal (D-Huntington Beach), son of Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and former Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), raised $313,247 in three months since entering the race in October.
Vice Mayor Tyler Diep (R-Westminster) has ample resources to battle Lowenthal and defend the seat for Republicans, as Diep brought in $455,140 in spendable dollars for this Assembly account in five months since entering the race in July, raising $206,223 and transferring $248,917 from his City Council account. However, one of Diep’s challenges will be determining how much to expend to battle Pepsi Government Affairs Senior Director Greg Haskin (R-Fountain Valley), which would drain precious campaign dollars that Diep could otherwise save for his campaign to keep the seat in Republican hands against the Lowenthal bid to seize the seat for Democrats.
A former Executive Director of the Orange County Republican Party and District Director to former Congressman Chris Cox (R-Newport Beach), Haskin raised $12,770 in two months since entering the race in mid-November. Haskin also loaned his campaign $100,000. OC Political has long separated $100,000 loans from contributions and transfers, with this five-year-old article giving our most comprehensive explanation of why candidates use $100,000 loans to inflate campaign finance figures, and OC Political has even been quoted by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune regarding these loans.
Diep spent $18,848 with a $350 bill to be paid, leaving him with $435,942 cash-on-hand. Lowenthal spent $41,204 with two bills to be paid totaling $6,900, leaving him with $265,143 cash-on-hand. Haskin spent $12,324 with a $100,000 loan, leaving him with $446 cash-on-hand. If we credit his loan to his cash-on-hand, Haskin’s $100,446 would still be less than half of Lowenthal’s cash-on-hand and less than a quarter of Diep’s cash-on-hand. If we don’t credit the loan, Diep has 977 times Haskin’s cash-on-hand while Lowenthal has 594 times Haskin’s cash-on-hand.
Lowenthal, the ex-brother-in-law of former Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and the brother of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Daniel Lowenthal, is the President of FreeConferenceCall.com. FreeConferenceCall.com is a prolific service: I myself was on a conference call yesterday that used a FreeConferenceCall.com number and am scheduled to be on a conference call today also using a FreeConferenceCall.com. These two conference calls were both set up by other people, both calls only have Republican participants, and the two calls have completely different participants other than me.
There is a 36% overlap between CD-47 and AD-72, with 85,000 of AD-72’s 239,000 voters living in the overlapping area. With Congressman Alan Lowenthal on the ballot at the same time as Josh Lowenthal’s Assembly candidacy, expect an unprecedented amount of re-election mail and other expenditures for Congressman Lowenthal in an effort to boost his son’s name ID. Congressman Lowenthal has already given the maximum contribution to his son’s campaign under law, and the Congressman’s campaign has also given the maximum contribution to his son’s campaign. By spending a significant amount of his Congressional campaign money in the overlap with the Assembly District, Congressman Lowenthal has the ability to use an unclosable loophole to help his son (you can’t ban the man from running for re-election to block him from helping his son since they have the same last name).
Not to be forgotten is Republicans hold only a 4.5% registration advantage over Democrats in AD-72. Diep’s cross-over ability in attracting votes from Vietnamese Democrats would help buffer that small registration advantage. In addition to his name ID from the Westminster City Council, Diep is also a prolific presence on Vietnamese language television as an on-air television personality.
Diep has built his own name ID as a City Councilman and through his work on Vietnamese language television. Lowenthal has built-in name ID, courtesy of his father, the sitting Congressman running for re-election. Haskin will need to spend significant sums of money to build his own name ID in the face of his two better-known opponents.
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