Smith: Assembly candidates need more review

The campaign for the 74th Assembly District seat is not as sophisticated as the race for the presidency of the United States or even the U.S. Senate.

Still, there are certain minimum expectations — namely being available to the public and the press — of how to conduct a campaign. So far, the race has been a disappointment.

Of the three candidates, Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle, Assemblyman Allan Mansoor and Newport Beach activist Bob Rush, only Mansoor is exhibiting the type of behavior that is likely to get him elected.

Take this example. Until a couple of weeks ago, Rush did not have a website. In an era when the Internet has become a top choice for information required to make many decisions, this is a remarkable lapse. Does it mean Rush is not serious about wanting to be elected? No.

It means that because he was late entering the race, he must spend valuable time catching up.

In Rush's favor, however, is his communication. When I requested an interview, he responded immediately and efficiently. I will report on that meeting shortly. And on Thursday, I am meeting with Mansoor, who also responded promptly.

Daigle has not yet responded to my April 6 request to meet for coffee, but the offer still stands.

Mansoor has learned that when you are before voters it helps to smile, as he did throughout the recent Feet to the Fire Forum. In fact, the more you smile, the more you appeal to voters because most people vote based on their emotions.

Simply put, people vote for the candidates they like. When they like you, they trust you, and when they trust you, they like you. Mansoor has done little in his two years as an assemblyman, and I didn't always agree with what he did as mayor of Costa Mesa, but he can still win the election because he has the perception of being approachable, and perception is reality.

Overall, Rush shined at Feet to the Fire, particularly when it came to the discussion of the 19th Street Bridge, a proposal many in Costa Mesa oppose.

"The 19th Street Bridge is D.O.A.," Rush said. "It's not going to get built, and to spend a minute more time on this issue — much less taxpayer dollars threatening lawsuits against taxpayer dollars defending lawsuits at the [Orange County Transportation Authority] level — is absolutely a waste of time."

This is a clear-thinking, forward-focused person.

But is he legislator material? I am not sure yet.

All of the candidates detest the gridlock and petty politics that are commonplace in Sacramento, but none of them have offered a viable solution. Instead, voters read and hear only that the problem exists and nothing more. The reason they can't or won't offer a solution is because they are powerless to change the status quo.

But no candidate in his right mind is going to say, "You know folks, Sacramento is a mess, but the truth is that as your representative, I'll be the new kid in town — Mansoor included — with just one vote. And I really won't be able to change much of anything.

"That's going to take several years while I earn some political capital, and it will mean that you'll have to keep voting for me over the next few elections."

Good luck to the candidate who decides that such honesty is the best policy.

STEVE SMITH is a Costa Mesa resident and a freelance writer. Send story ideas to

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