Mansoor, Rush take most votes in 74th District race

Spoiling Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle's bid for the state Assembly, Democratic candidate Bob Rush looks poised to advance to the November general election.

Rush and Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) won the most votes in the 74th Assembly District primary race Tuesday. Both were ahead of Daigle, who ran as Republican.

The 74th district covers part of Huntington Beach.

Mansoor took 43% of ballots and Rush 33%, with all precincts counted for as of Wednesday, according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

The race for the 72nd Assembly District, which covers parts of Huntington and Fountain Valley, looks to be between Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar, who earned 28.5% of the vote as of Wednesday morning, and Huntington Beach businessman Travis Allen, who placed second with 19.9%.

Finishing behind them in the preliminary counts were Garden Grove Planning Commissioner Joe Dovinh, Orange County Board of Education Trustee Long Pham, and retired police commander Albert Ayala.

Dovinh was 228 votes behind Allen on Wednesday.

The results are not official until all paper ballots have been counted. Registrar Neal Kelley said those ballots, which were either mailed or dropped off in person, can sometimes sway election results.

"They can, because now we're seeing so many dropped off at the polls that it's almost like election-day voting," he said. "In other cases, it has made a difference."

Daigle came in third with 24% in the new "top-two" primary system.

The results virtually ensure Mansoor a victory in November. A more centrist Republican candidate might have fared well in the newly redrawn district, which now includes Irvine and Laguna Beach. But a Democrat faces tough odds: Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district 42% to 31%, with 22% declining to state a party preference.

Daigle's loss comes as a disappointment to the Newport political establishment, which had mostly backed her.

"I think he was a spoiler," said one of her fellow council members, Rush Hill. "It was pretty clear Leslie had a pretty good shot [in November] if she moved to the middle and not to the extreme right."

Rush, a real estate investor, is a political newcomer and was significantly outspent by wealthy Daigle supporters. But the cumulative effect of Mansoor and Rush's attacks against her may have paid off.

"The strategy was to distinguish between the real moderate and not the pseudo-moderate," Rush said Tuesday night.

Daigle could have harmed her own chances with poor debate performances and minimal interaction with the media — at one point she stopped taking calls from most reporters. The result was a generally unflattering portrayal by commentators in the Orange County Register, the Daily Pilot, the Newport Beach Independent and other news outlets.

"Everyone came out against her in the media," said Hill, who called the coverage unfair.

Daigle said Wednesday that she plans to focus on her duties on the City Council, but seemed to leave open the possibility of a future run.

"It was positive learning experience," she said. "You get to see the cohesion of the district — education, infrastructure, arts and entertainment — and you look at how it all fits together."

She added: "It was my first look at the district."

As Rush watched the results roll in Tuesday, he reflected on the contest with Mansoor: "The battle was between the conservative viewpoint and the centrist viewpoint … I intend on beating Mansoor in the finals."

Mansoor, a former Costa Mesa mayor, did not respond immediately to messages for comment.

In Tuesday's race, about 20% of registered voters turned out, compared to 55% in last November's midterm election. Republicans had a four percentage-point lead in turnout compared to Democrats.;

Twitter: @hbindependent

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