Backers of Orange County Democratic state Senate candidate Lou Correa have launched a last-minute write-in campaign for a Republican in an effort to peel votes from Lynn Daucher, the GOP nominee who is Correa’s chief rival for the seat.
Backers of write-in candidate Otto Bade include an independent campaign committee that spent nearly $200,000 to support Correa in the Democratic primary, as well as Correa donors and supporters who signed Bade’s candidate petition.
The campaign for the 34th state Senate district is one of the most competitive in the state this fall. Democrats hold a slight majority of registered voters in the district.
Records made public Monday show that Californians United paid for two mailers in recent days that cost more than $30,000. The mailers portray Bade as more conservative than the moderate Daucher, with one of them calling him the “official Republican write-in candidate.”
Bryan Lanza, Daucher’s campaign manager, said Monday that a Correa supporter who contributed $120 to Correa’s campaign on Sept. 22 also signed Bade’s nominating papers, which were submitted last week.
“What it tells me is they’re desperate, that they’ve got to cheat to win,” said Daucher, an Orange County assemblywoman. “This is the dirty trick of all dirty tricks.”
Bade is a Santa Ana businessman who lost to Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Anaheim) in the 2004 general election.
Reached Monday evening, Bade said he did not know who was behind the mailers and that the signatures he gathered came from supporters he has known for decades.
“Honestly, I don’t know anything about it,” he said “I haven’t even heard of it.”
Correa, an Orange County supervisor, said he did not know his supporters were backing Bade.
“I have no information on that campaign,” he said. “Those are independent expenditures.”
Independent expenditure committees can campaign on behalf of candidates but are not allowed to coordinate with them.
The Times reported earlier this year that the treasurer of Californians United is Bruce Young, a Sacramento lobbyist and former Democratic assemblyman. He was convicted of accepting secret payments from fireworks manufacturer Patrick Moriarty, but his case was overturned on appeal. Young could not be reached Monday night.