In a race in which crime has emerged as a central issue, Democrat Christian F. (Rick) Thierbach was endorsed Monday in the 72nd Assembly District by several law enforcement organizations and unions representing more than 55,000 members in Orange County and around the state.
Thierbach, a 38-year-old prosecutor with the district attorney’s office in Riverside County, announced the endorsements at a press conference on the steps of the Old County Courthouse in Santa Ana. He was flanked by representatives of 10 law enforcement organizations, including Santa Ana, Anaheim and Westminster, all of which are in the 72nd Assembly District.
“What is happening here today captures the essence of this campaign,” said Thierbach, an Anaheim resident. “It demonstrates in a very tangible way the difference between the two candidates. Those differences are experience and qualifications.”
In a race that has attracted statewide attention, Thierbach is trying to fill the seat of one-term incumbent Richard E. Longshore (R-Santa Ana), who died June 8, one day after the primary election.
In his campaign to defeat his Republican rival, Garden Grove Planning Commissioner Curt Pringle, Thierbach has been hammering away at the crime issue. Gangs and drugs, he says, are major concerns among voters in the district.
The endorsements, including that of the 1,100-member Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, followed interviews with Thierbach by representatives of 10 state and local police groups, a Thierbach spokesman said. Despite assertions by the Thierbach campaign that both candidates were interviewed, Pringle said he talked with only some of the organizations that endorsed his opponent.
Pringle’s Sacramento-based consultant, Carlos Rodriguez, declined to comment on Thierbach’s endorsements beyond saying that “they are good ones.”
Santa Ana Police Sgt. Don Blankenship, president of the department’s 440-member police association, said his group backed Thierbach because of his background as a prosecutor. “That was the primary difference between the two candidates,” Blankenship said. “Rick understands the issues. He can go to Sacramento and help us.”
Thierbach has worked as a deputy district attorney since 1977 and was named Juvenile Prosecutor of the Year in 1985 and Felony Prosecutor of the Year in 1987 in Riverside County.