[Cross-posted from our partner site OC Political]
Mayor Pro Tem Greg Raths (R-Mission Viejo) has entered the race for the State Board of Equalization seat being vacated by BOE Chairwoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point), who is not seeking re-election in order to run for the 49th Congressional District seat of retiring Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista). The massive BOE seat includes all of Imperial, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego Counties, with small slivers of San Bernardino County.
Raths join a race that already includes State Senator Joel Anderson (R-Alpine), former Assemblyman Ken Lopez-Maddox (D-Dana Point), former Councilman John F. Kelley (R-Tustin), and Board of Equalization employee David Dodson (D-Dana Point). Orange County Water District Director and former City Councilman Denis Bilodeau (R-Orange) is exploring his candidacy for the seat. Orange County Taxpayers Association President and CEO Carolyn Cavecche (R-Orange) ruled out running shortly before Senator Anderson entered the race. (Here’s OC Political’s coverage of Anderson and Lopez-Maddox entering the BOE race, along with Lopez-Maddox’s unexpected party switch. Here’s OC Political’s coverage of Bilodeau and Cavecche’s explorations of the BOE race that also discusses Kelley.)
Raths first ran for elected office in 2014 when he ran for the 45th Congressional District after Congressman John Campbell (R-Irvine) announced his retirement. State Senator Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) won 45% of the vote in the top-two primary, with Drew Leavens (D-Poway) winning 28%, Raths 24%, and Al Salehi (NPP-Buena Park) 3%. Since he did not make it to the general election for the Congressional seat, Raths was able to run for Mission Viejo City Council, in which the retired Marine Colonel was the top vote-getter in a race that saw two incumbent Councilmembers defeated.
In 2016, first-term Councilman Raths challenged first-term Congresswoman Walters’s re-election bid. Walters won 41% of the vote in the top-two primary, with Ron Varasteh (D-Irvine) winning 28%, Raths 19%, and Max Gouron (D-Tustin) 12%.