Irvine mayor seeks O.C. supervisor seat
“Encouraged by my family and so many amazing and supportive members of our community, I’m officially joining the race to become the next District 3 Orange County Supervisor,” Wagner said in announcing his candidacy. “I’m stepping forward to fight for Orange County families who deserve a genuine, proven leader who knows that excellent schools, low crime, a strong economy, low taxes, and a clean environment will move our region forward.”
Many political insiders consider Wagner to be the favorite in the special election, because of his name recognition in the district—said to be the key to winning such elections, which don’t provide significant time for less known candidates.
Wagner’s current and former political positions have significant overlap with the Third District, 35 percent of which is made up of Irvine voters. Wagner was re-elected mayor of Irvine by a 14-point margin in November. Wagner’s former assembly seat, AD-68, includes 65 percent of the registered voters in the district.
Republicans hold a 4 percentage-point voter registration advantage in the Third District, which also includes Yorba Linda, parts of Anaheim, Orange, Villa Park, Orange Park Acres, Tustin, and the communities in and around Santiago and Silverado Canyons. Most of Irvine is in the district, with Shady Canyon and Quail Hill among the most notable exceptions.
While Democrats may be in the minority in the community, there is only one member of the party running for the seat: Former Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. Her former congressional district does not overlap with the Third District, however. So it’s uncertain how her name recognition will translate in the special election. Wealthy businessman Andy Thorburn, a Democrat, withdrew from the race to replace Spitzer, citing party loyalty. Former Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray is the other well-known Republican in the race.
In an interesting side-note, both Sanchez and Spitzer rose to prominence when they were elected in 1996, she to Congress and he to his first term on the Board of Supervisors.
The official candidate filing period is open through Jan. 28. The newly elected supervisor would take office on either March 26 or April 9 for a term that would last until the 2020 election.
If Wagner were to win the election, the method to replace him as Irvine mayor is undetermined, with options that include a special election or an appointment of his replacement, possibly from among present council members.
Mayor Wagner’s release announcing his candidacy proclaims that “for the last two years, Don Wagner has led an Irvine renaissance without raising taxes, ever! Under Don’s leadership as Mayor, the Irvine Great Park is finally being built. Irvine has seen more parks, wilderness trails, and sports facilities open. Real planning for the long promised Cultural Terrace is now happening, while live music returned to Irvine at our new amphitheater.
“Moreover, Don has implemented every step of the detailed traffic-improvement plan he promised in the last election, including stopping all residential development contributing to our traffic problem. With Don Wagner as Mayor, Irvine has finally begun making real progress on getting our traffic under control. Imagine that – campaign promises being honored to make your life better.”
Wagner’s campaign website (electdonwagner.com) lists numerous endorsements, including a “who’s who” of current and former county and city Republican luminaries.
On her campaign website (electkrismurray.com), Murray touts her fiscal conservatism—”As a champion of fiscal responsibility, Kris works hard to ensure Anaheim has a balanced budget and puts money away for a rainy day—all without raising taxes.”
She also supports development in the Anaheim Resort District: “Kris has championed more than $6 billion in development projects that will bring economic benefits to the region for generations to come. Projects include the recent expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center, ensuring its place as the largest convention center on the West Coast, multiple four-diamond hotels and the largest expansion of the Disneyland Resort in two decades with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, opening in 2019. Murray’s leadership helped create thousands of skilled jobs in Anaheim and will generate hundreds of millions in new city and county revenue – supporting quality of life services for residents and keeping local taxes and fees low.”
Murray also lists her endorsements, which not surprisingly includes numerous Anaheim organizations and civic leaders, as well as (somewhat surprisingly) the Orange County Business Council. “The future of our county continues to be bright as we have accomplished leaders willing to serve on the Board of Supervisors,” says OCBC CEO Lucy Dunn in a statement. “We are excited to support a community leader who has been a part of the OCBC family for over 12 years where she led solutions on transportation, workforce housing and other critical issues to grow jobs and enhance the quality of life of Orange County residents. She remains active in her support and energy to Orange County’s success.”
Loretta Sanchez has the now-Democratic O.C. congressional delegation on her side, which she touts on her website’s homepage (sanchezforocsupervisor.com), perhaps hoping to ride in the wake of their 2018 election success. She also has a long list of labor and local politicians endorsing her candidacy.
With Murray and Wagner already dividing up key endorsements, local Republicans wonder if the two will split Republican votes, resulting in the former congresswoman becoming the second Democrat on the Board of Supervisors after a long run as a 100 percent Republican board.