On Monday night, the Republican Party of Orange County Central Committee voted to endorse candidates in three key races: Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey in the 49th Congressional District; former Anaheim school board trustee Alexandria Coronado in the 65th Assembly District; and former Assemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang on the replacement ballot in the election to recall Sen. Josh Newman in the 29th Senate District.
CD49 is open due to incumbent Rep. Darrell Issa’s decision not to seek re-election. The OC GOP endorsed Harkey over her two Republican rivals, San Diego County Supervisor Kristen Gaspar and Assemblyman Rocky Chavez. There are a slew of Democrats also running there.
AD65 is currently held by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, a former Fullerton City Councilwoman. Quirk-Silvs was first elected to the seat in 2012, when she ousted GOP incumbent Assemblyman Chris Norby. Quirk-Silva was herself defeated in 2014 by GOPer Young Kim, but returned two years later to defeat Kim in 2016 and reclaim the seat. Young Kim is running this year for the 39th Congressional District.
Ling-Ling Chang was narrowly defeated by newcomer Newman in 2016 for the open 29th Senate District seat. Newman voted last year for the massive and massively unpopular SB1 gas tax increase – which passed by a single vote. That led to the qualification of a recall against Newman, who is generally considered a political dead man walking. The OC GOP opted to endorse Chang over conservative Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker, who has also declared his intention to run on the replacement ballot.
Chris Nguyen from our partner site OC Political liveblogged the OC GOP endorsement proceedings:
Harkey’s endorsement request for CD-49 and Chang’s endorsement request for SD-29 will be hotly contested, as Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside) and Supervisor Kristin Gaspar (R-Encinitas) are both running for CD-49 while Councilman Bruce Whitaker (R-Fullerton) is also running for SD-29. Harkey and Chang are on the agenda because a majority of the members of Central Committee signed their petitions to have their endorsement requests heard. In order to actually be endorsed requires a 2/3 vote of the Central Committee.
Gaspar had emailed Central Committee members asking to meet with them individually earlier this month. Michael Schwartz, a San Diego County Second Amendment advocate, had distributed flyers at last week’s Central Committee meeting assailing Gaspar’s record on guns and her campaign contributions. Gaspar responded today with an email arguing the OC GOP should not endorse one Republican over another, noting her success in unseating a sitting Democrat from the Board of Supervisors in a district Hillary Clinton won by 20%, and stating that she is “pro Second Amendment, pro life and as a lifelong Republican I do not contribute to Democrat candidates” along with a link to the opensecrets.org entry for donations by Gaspar, which shows numerous donations to the Republican Party of San Diego County and one each to Congresswoman Mimi Walters and State Senator Bill Morrow. Schwartz responded to Gaspar’s email with an email arguing that the Supervisor Gaspar defeated “had looming employee, sexual harassment, and campaign finance issues” and was easily beatable, that she voted to support a gun ban while she was on the City Council, and listed one contribution to Pedro Nava, six contributions from her company to Democrats at the State and local levels, and her husband’s numerous contributions.
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