Political Landscape: Former Newport Beach councilman backs mayor’s opponent in Republican race for state Assembly


Former Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter has endorsed Orange County prosecutor Kelly Ernby in her run for the state’s 74th Assembly District seat in 2020 over his one-time council colleague Diane Dixon.

Ernby, a Huntington Beach Republican and political newcomer, is facing off against fellow Republican Dixon, the current mayor of Newport Beach, and freshman Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) for the seat representing portions of coastal and southern Orange County.

Newport Beach Mayor Diane Dixon announces Assembly bid against Petrie-Norris »


“As a former Newport Beach city councilman, I’ve had a chance to listen to constituents who have expressed what’s important to them,” Peotter said in a statement last week. “Our community wants their private property rights protected, the freedom to take their dogs to the beach and a friendly environment for local businesses. I endorse Deputy District Attorney Kelly Ernby to stand up for what’s important to the people of Newport Beach and the 74th Assembly District.”

Dixon, who started her second turn as mayor in December, was first elected to the Newport council alongside Peotter in 2014 as part of the “Team Newport” slate.

All four members of Team Newport — Dixon, Peotter, Marshall “Duffy” Duffield and Kevin Muldoon — ran for reelection in 2018, but not as a slate. All retained their seats except Peotter, who lost to Joy Brenner.

Dixon withdrew her endorsement for Peotter’s reelection last fall after his previously undisclosed business relationship with Duffield came to light, saying Peotter should have recused himself from votes that could affect Duffield’s business holdings at Newport Harbor. Duffield regularly recuses himself from harbor-related votes.

On Tuesday, Peotter clarified his endorsement of Ernby, expressing approval for Dixon’s local work but adding that Ernby could take the Republican fight to the state Capitol.

“Diane does a good job for Newport Beach, but we need a fighter who will stand up and be the loyal opposition in Sacramento,” Peotter said in an email. “Kelly Ernby is a deputy district attorney and has taken tough, complicated cases to trial and is not afraid of the fight you need to take on Sacramento.

“I served with Diane for four years and I don’t believe that Diane has what it takes to do this job in a very partisan and caustic atmosphere. You need to have very strong convictions, and I believe that Kelly has the skills necessary to represent us.”

Dixon did not have an immediate comment Tuesday.

Ernby describes herself as a pro-business, pro-taxpayer political outsider.

“I am honored by this early outpouring of support for our campaign,” she said in a statement. “I’m excited to continue sharing my vision for the future of Orange County with our community. The 74th District deserves a genuine leader who will work to reduce barriers to business and enhance the quality of life of all Californians.”

The 74th Assembly District includes Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, southern Huntington Beach and most of Irvine.

Demonstration against oil drilling set for Saturday in H.B.

Environmentalists will join hands on the sand in Huntington Beach on Saturday in opposition to offshore oil and gas drilling.

Participants in the demonstration, part of a global movement called “Hands Across the Sand,” will congregate at 11 a.m. at the parking lot entrance at Pacific Coast Highway and Newland Avenue before joining hands at noon.

Environmentalists say Saturday’s event is meant to protest a draft program released by President Trump in 2018 that proposed opening federal waters to oil and gas drilling. The plan has since been delayed.

The demonstration will be held nearly four years to the day after a Santa Barbara County spill in which 140,000 gallons of crude oil blackened popular beaches for miles, killed wildlife and harmed tourism and fishing.

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