O.C. party leaders analyze Assembly race

IRVINE — The head of the Orange County Democratic Party said 74th Assembly District Republicans missed an opportunity in the June 5 primary by not voting for Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle.

According to Frank Barbaro, the moderate Republican candidate would have reached out to both parties in a divided Sacramento.

Speaking at Concordia University's Center for Public Policy in Irvine last week, Barbaro said Californians should look for candidates who will work with political adversaries in the state Legislature, where Democrats hold a strong majority.

Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh, who also spoke at the forum, disagreed, saying that appealing to independents and Democrats is where the Daigle campaign went wrong. She was defeated by Baugh's pick, Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), a traditional conservative, and Newport Beach businessman Bob Rush, a moderate Democrat.

"If you can't even campaign to win your own base, you're off to a bad start," Baugh said. "Campaigning is one thing, governing is another … at some point you have to govern on a vision. You can't change for the audience."

Daigle agreed that she was willing to work with both parties in Sacramento to fix the state's problems.

"Certainly, my message has always been that we need to work together to provide our governmental services in a more efficient way," she said in a follow-up interview. "Certainly we had hoped that people would've been more receptive to that message. In 2012, we may be in an environment where the battle lines are clearly drawn."

Daigle ran for the newly redrawn district whose Republican-majority territory includes Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Woods and Laguna Beach. She came in third, nearly 10% behind Rush and 20% behind Mansoor.

Rush and Mansoor will face off in the November general election.


Other issues

The party chairmen's analyses also reflected their differing opinions on state and national politics.

Barbaro portrayed Republicans as obstinate, while Baugh suggested that Democrats were beholden to labor unions who have "overplayed their hand" with pensions and are now feeling the wrath of voters.

"How much more can we slash without coming to a grinding halt?" Barbaro said of California's economy. "Whatever happened to the belief that government can do good things?"

"We get that there's needs out there. We get that there's social needs," Baugh countered. But "we gave too much away" with public employees, he said.

Baugh said Republicans are as stubborn about not raising taxes — he predicted Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax increases to fail in November — as Democrats are about cutting government spending.

Baugh and Barbaro found common ground in immigration reform. Barbaro said Latinos are an unrealized voting powerhouse who have yet to flex their muscle.

"Republicans can't have an attitude of, 'Illegal is illegal. What else do you need to know?'" Baugh said. "It's a shortsighted analysis. Who among us wouldn't try and come over?"


Twitter: @JosephSerna

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