February 5, 2023
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Ten Southern California politicians who lost big this election – Orange County Register

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There were a lot of winners in the June 7 primary election. But there were also a lot of losers. Once-rising stars and big-deals-in-their-own-mind ran for office and lost. Those are my favorite political stories.

Here are ten Southern California pols who emerged from June 7 with giant Ls on their forehead.

1. John Valdivia

San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia has been booted from office after just one term as mayor. He is currently trailing challengers Helen Tran (41.56%) and James Penman (20.08%) with just 16.94% of the vote.  It’s a well-earned repudiation by the voters of San Bernardino, who really do deserve better.

Valdivia should’ve resigned two years ago amid accusations of sexual harassment and other misconduct (some of which were later independently validated) in early 2020. But then came the coronavirus pandemic, which swept away all other considerations.

Valdivia has tried to cast himself as a populist hero, a man of the people, but he’s really just your standard-issue corrupt local politician. He and former Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu should be best friends.

In the last two years he’s seen his own loyalists on the council turn on him and late last year was even censured by the council for misuse of public funds.

If this is indeed the end of Valdivia, then all one can really say is: Good riddance.

2. Andrew Do

Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do, when he’s not making headlines for sketchiness, or complaining about public records requests, is ostensibly a big deal. He’s been a politician in Orange County on and off for over a decade, first as a Garden Grove councilman and an Orange County supervisor since 2015.

Accordingly, like many Orange County Republicans with unmerited ambition, he thought it was time for a move up and so he threw his hat in the ring for state treasurer. This set up the possibility of a confrontation between Andrew Do and Treasurer Fiona Ma over who loves police unions more and who the police unions love more. (Hint: for all the money police unions, namely the Orange County deputies union, have thrown at Andrew Do, police unions love Fiona Ma more. Google “Fiona Ma” and “Gerry Serrano.”)

Thankfully, it appears Californians have dodged that horrible scenario, as Do is trailing Jack Guerrero, a councilman from the not-big city of Cudahy in Los Angeles County. Fiona Ma currently has 57.4% of the vote, Guerrero 21.9% and Do 17.3% of the vote. This is made funnier by the fact that Do raised hundreds of thousands of dollars while Guerrero basically raised nothing ($4,700 according to CalMatters). Money can’t buy everything.

Accordingly, Andrew Do, will avoid the indignity of having his heart broken by the police unions he loves so much and losing badly to Fiona Ma in November.

3. Lisa Bartlett 

Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett needs a new job.

She tried and failed last year to cynically place a misleading measure on the ballot that would have extended term limits on the Orange County Board of Supervisors while calling the measure a “lifetime ban after three terms.”

It wasn’t surprising, then, that Bartlett decided to run for Congress.

Bartlett ran a predictably super right-wing campaign in which her campaign bizarrely tried to cast Republican Brian Maryott as a liberal RINO, or whatever, when he’s nothing of the sort.

The campaign bombed, with Bartlett receiving just 10.7% of the vote as of this writing, compared to 19% for Maryott.

4. Ron Galperin

Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin has done a great job in his current role calling out a litany of failures in the city of Los Angeles. His reports on the city’s mismanagement of Measure HHH money for homeless housing, for example, have been laudable.

It made perfect sense for him to run for California controller and I don’t think anyone could argue he wouldn’t be an improvement over current Controller Betty Yee, who is best known for her involvement in a failed, sketchy no-bid mask contract. On Yee’s watch, California is also the only state that doesn’t share, line-by-line, government expenditures with the public.

Alas, Galperin’s campaign was a dud, reduced to touting endorsements from the failure-plagued Yee and Congressmember Maxine Waters, who for years was named by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s most corrupt member of Congress.

Galperin finished with just 10.2% of the vote as of this writing.

But in some ways that’s not as bad a loss as …

5. Yvonne Yiu

Monterey Park City Councilmember and Democrat Yvonne Yiu also ran in the state controller’s race, ending up with 15.1%, a distant third place behind Republican Lanhee Chen (37.3%) and Democrat Malia Cohen (22.5%).

Here’s the part that hurts:  Yiu reportedly spent nearly $6 million of her own money for this outcome. Yikes.

It seems like a just outcome, though. On May 23, George Skelton noted even that late in the game that, “it’s not clear how she’d handle the job because she hasn’t offered details.”

Can you imagine blowing $6 million on a losing campaign of little substance?

6. Connie Leyva

State Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, fell far short of ousting San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman.

Hagman, with 57.82% of the vote as of this writing, is likely to avoid a run-off thanks to the poor performance of Leyva (35.29%) and Larry Wu (6.88%).

It’s a fair enough outcome.

Leyva has backed lots of awful legislation in her time, from supporting Assembly Bill 5 to nanny-state bills like those banning plastic straws, and has supported giveaways to the prison guards union. Leyva was also an early supporter of the rejected split roll proposal, which would have gutted Proposition 13 and raised taxes on businesses.

Clearly, a politician with that cluster of positions wasn’t going to fly.

7. Greg Raths

Republican Mission Viejo councilman Greg Raths is now veering into perennial candidate territory. He has run at least four times for Congress — failing to make the top two in 2014, 2016 and now in 2022, with his latest loss coming to incumbent Republican Rep. Young Kim, who will be challenged in November by Democrat Asif Mahmood.

This was not the first time Raths ran against an incumbent Republican member of Congress — he challenged Rep. Mimi Walters in 2016.

Raths did make it into the top in 2020, when six Republicans (yes, six, because Orange County Republicans all think they’re destined for glory) ran in a crowded field to oust Democratic Rep. Katie Porter. Porter had no problem trouncing Raths in the general election.

The only notable thing about that election cycle was that Raths paid pundit Tomi Lahren and Trumper Corey Lewandowski through the website Cameo to offer recorded messages of support.

8. Lloyd White

Beaumont Mayor Lloyd White has tried twice now to get out of City Hall and into bigger and better (I guess) offices. In 2020, White fell short in the primary to represent California State Senate District 23, coming in third to Democrat Abigail Medina and Republican Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, the latter of whom went on to win the race in the general election.

This time, White decided fairly late in the game to run for Riverside County supervisor, challenging Libertarian Supervisor Jeff Hewitt, who already faced two Democratic challengers. As the editorial board of this newspaper noted in an endorsement of Hewitt, White “repeatedly responded in generally vague terms to questions about county government,” in an interview with the editorial board.

Instead, the only coherent message White had to offer was that he really didn’t like Hewitt, who has been a stalwart fiscal conservative and critic of California’s coronavirus policies. Well, that wasn’t good enough. Maybe Lloyd White can…I don’t know, run for water board or something, if he’s bored.

9. Diane Harkey

Republican former Assemblymember and chair of the state board of equalization Diane Harkey came up short in her bid for Orange County supervisor, trailing Democratic Supervisor Katrina Foley and Republican state Sen. Pat Bates, who will face off in November.

Despite having the official backing of the Orange County Republican Party and the Orange County deputies union, Harkey faced aggressive attacks by the conservative Lincoln Club of Orange County, which released polling earlier this year showing Bates, not Harkey, was best positioned to unseat Foley.

This is the second loss in a row for Harkey, who ran for Congress in 2018, when she lost to Democrat Mike Levin.

10. George Gascón 

No, the Los Angeles County District Attorney wasn’t on the ballot. But the successful recall of his successor in San Francisco, Chesa Boudin, undoubtedly gives momentum to the effort to recall Gascón.

While it is easy to overstate the meaning of the Boudin recall — it hardly indicates a coming revival of conservatism in California — it is clear that Californians, even very liberal Californians, have their limits.

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