Curt Pringle, a 29-year-old Garden Grove planning commissioner, will be the Republican candidate in the race to succeed Assemblyman Richard E. Longshore (R-Santa Ana), who died June 8.
Pringle, one of nine Republicans seeking the nomination, was selected by the Orange County Republican Central Committee by secret ballot Thursday night. Among the other hopefuls was Longshore’s 32-year-old widow, Linda, who complained Friday that the selection process was flawed because Pringle was the favorite from the outset.
“It’s obvious that the rest of us never had a chance,” a disappointed Longshore remarked, adding that she has not decided whether she will support Pringle. “They were looking for an image, not someone who can serve the community. I hope they are happy come Nov. 8.”
Longshore had been unopposed in the June primary for the GOP nomination in the 72nd Assembly District.
Pringle’s Democratic opponent in the November election will be Christian F. (Rick) Thierbach III, an Anaheim resident and a deputy district attorney in Riverside County.
The contest in the largely blue-collar 72nd Assembly District of central Orange County is viewed by both parties in Sacramento as important, affecting Republican hopes of regaining control of the Assembly before statewide reapportionment in 1990.
“This race is our No. 1 target in the state,” said Signal Hill Assemblyman Dennis Brown, chairman of the GOP Assembly caucus. “The Democrats feel the same way. It is going to be an all-out fight.”
In a district where Democrats enjoy a 50% to 39% edge in voter registration over Republicans, the popular Longshore nevertheless had been seen as having a good chance of being reelected. But the prospects for the boyish-looking Pringle are much less certain.
Thierbach, 38, has been campaigning for weeks, walking precincts and phoning voters to raise money in a race that experts say may cost the winner $750,000.
Pringle is little known outside GOP circles, and building enough name identification by Election Day to overcome the Democrats’ edge in voter registration may be difficult.