Rush: I'm a 'strong community advocate'

Just months prior to the state primary, and with no established political platform or built-in fundraising base, West Newport activist Bob Rush jumped into the 74th District Assembly race.

"Despite it being late, I think I could do really well," Rush said Wednesday, a day after filing his candidacy papers to challenge Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa). "My not being a slick politician I think is to my advantage. I think I'm viewed as a strong community advocate."

Rush, 55, is the first Democrat to get into the race and offers an alternative to what was a essentially a two-horse race between two Republicans, Mansoor: Costa Mesa's former mayor, and Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle. Huntington Beach Councilman Joe Carchio, also a Republican, said he intends to run, but has not officially filed his candidacy or submitted campaign reports.

Rush is known in Newport Beach for his years of fighting against the proliferation of rehab homes and acting as a watchdog over local campaigns. In 2010, he instigated minor reviews by the Fair Political Practices Commission against the local firefighters union and the Chamber of Commerce over campaign signs supporting Daigle's bid for reelection on the council.

Rush grew up in New Jersey — specifically, at the Jersey Shore before the MTV show of the same name went and ruined its reputation, he said — and graduated from the now-closed Upsala College.

He worked for a time as an accountant before going into commercial real estate. In 1985, Rush moved to Newport Beach and by 1995, he had opened up his own company, U.S. Realty Group.

"I wanted to make a change and felt there was a lot of opportunity out here, and there was, so I packed up and found a job and plugged away," Rush said. "I enjoy my career immensely. Complete independence. I work with businesses every day, and I think that's a selling point. I have to represent businesses, and I understand what makes them tick."

He's been married once and has no children.

Rush injected more than $100,000 of his own money into his campaign, to "catch up," and plans to raise another $100,000 by the time the June primaries come around.

He faces stiff competition from Daigle, who has raised money faster than any other candidate and boasts that more than 90% of her donations come from within the 74th District.

On Wednesday, Daigle took a jab at Rush's newly found party designation. After more than 10 years as a declined-to-state, or independent, voter, Rush filed as a Democrat.

"Obama's visit to Corona del Mar last week was an emotional and overwhelming event for Bob," Daigle said in an email. "Yesterday, he joined the Democratic Party."

Mansoor, meanwhile, can point to capturing the Orange County Republican Party's endorsement.

"The first hurdle is getting through the primary," Rush said. "Hopefully, within the next 10 days, I'll be gangbusters."

Rush's moderate stances — he calls himself fiscally conservative and socially moderate — could appeal to Irvine residents, where more than half of the City Council members are Democrats. Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach have Republican majorities.

"When you talk to anyone in reasonable terms, these key criteria where you place yourself in a range, you find that people have views on many things that are similar and it's only one or two things that separate these out," he said. "I do believe my ideas will prevail if they're good, regardless of whatever letter I have behind my name."

Twitter: @JosephSerna

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World