Bao Nguyen has declined to file for re-election as mayor of Garden Grove, and instead is going all-in with his near-hopeless attempt to defeat former Assemblyman-Supervisor-Senator Lou Correa in a Democrat v Democrat contest for the 46th Congressional District seat. Ngyuen defeated long-time Mayor Bruce Broadwater by a razor-thin margin in 2014, and was considered vulnerable this year in the wake of political decisions that alienated a vocal segment of the Vietnamese community.
Nguyen’s decision ends weeks of speculation and questions, including whether he could legally run for both re-election as mayor and Congress. According to some legal experts consulted by OC Daily, there was no legal impediment, while others believe swearing, under penalty of perjury, an oath to serve as Garden Grove mayor if elected was inconsistent with running for Congress at the same time. In other words, the oath taken in pursuit of the lower officer would be made a lie by the simultaneous pursuit of the higher office.
Termed-out Councilman Steve Jones had already filed to run for mayor, and Bao’s decision tilts the odds even more in Jones’ favor. Also running are Albert Ayala and Don Taylor. The filing deadline for mayor is automatically extended to 5:00 p.m. on August 17 since the incumbent isn’t running.
Former Assemblyman/Supervisor/Senator Lou Correa racked up a lop-sided plurality in June, winning 43.7% of the vote. The left-wing mayor of Garden Grove, Bao Nguyen snagged 14.6%, edging Republican Bob Peterson for the second spot in the November run-off.
Given that chasm, the odds against Nguyen beating Correa are astronomical. And it shows in an increasingly quirky and bizarre campaign. After Rep. Loretta Sanchez endorsed Lou Correa last week to succeed her in CD46, Nguyen attacked her as “Republican-endorsed.” He went on to cite the popular 20-year incumbent’s support for the candidate who took 43.7% of the primary vote as proof that “our campaign’s message is resonating with the working families of Orange County.”
Several days ago prior to criticizing Sanchez for secruing Republican endorsements, it emerged that the uber-progressive Nguyen was himself a registered Republican while living in Colorado in 2004. When TheLiberalOC.com asked why, Nguyen’s response:
“I registered Republican when I lived in Colorado because I wanted to be on their mailing list,” Nguyen wrote. “But they didn’t send me anything.”
There are many reasons for joining a political party, but this writer has never heard a dedicated political activist say he or she did so to “get on their mailing list” – especially since it generally isn’t a necessary pre-condition. This writer has been a registered Republican since 1982, and is on Democratic Party e-mail lists.
After surfing the Janet Nguyen-driven Vietnamese voter turn-out wave to edge out Bruce Broadwater in November 2014, Bao Nguyen quickly became a darling of Orange County progressives and the Voice of OC, with high hopes for a big political future. In a few months, Nguyen will be out of office entirely, so it remains to be seen what, if anything, remains of his political career following a failed attempt “to go national, man.”