Smith: Talking the issues with candidate Bob Rush

Friday's mail brought the first campaign literature from the three 74th Assembly District candidates.

Of the three — Leslie Daigle, Allan Mansoor and Bob Rush — Rush was the only one not to use the word "reform" in his mailer.

It's not that he doesn't want reform; it's just that he has a different idea on how to achieve it.

Rush, a Democrat, jumped into the campaign late and is now moving at top speed to increase his visibility and carve out some differentiation from his two Republican rivals. At a whopping 12 by 15 inches, his mailer was designed to attract attention.

A Newport Beach real estate investor who made a name in town opposing the proliferation of rehabilitation homes, Rush is also stepping up his visibility with standard campaign signs around the district and with local appearances, including two recent visits to the Laguna Woods Democratic Club.

Rush calls himself a "moderate" Democrat — tough on fiscal matters and a true Democrat on social issues. He is pro-choice and against the death penalty.

I met with Rush on May 1 and told him that I was not interested in information or a position that a voter can find on a candidate's website. I wanted to hear what he had to say about why voters should shun his opponents, which is different from why they should vote for him.

He directed criticism toward Daigle and Mansoor.

"[Daigle] doesn't have a concrete position on any issue," Rush said. "She talks out of both sides of her mouth, as seen with the 19th Street Bridge. Daigle is also not a pro-choice candidate, but tries to skate around it by claiming to support Roe v. Wade.

"Her campaign contributions are mostly from people needing her vote on the City Council. This type of special interest, double-talking politician is what voters distrust. After eight years of service, even her colleagues on the City Council don't trust her enough to elect her to the ceremonial position of mayor."

Daigle did not respond to my two requests for a sit-down interview, but she did email the following response to Rush's comments: "Aside from complaining, Bob hasn't done anything. Bob is a man that loves to whine."

Concerning Mansoor, a former Costa Mesa mayor who's been in the state Assembly for two years, Rush said he's proven to be "completely ineffective during that time, and does not have one bill or real accomplishment that he can point to, as was highlighted in the recent Feet to the Fire debate.

"We need more than 'no' from our elected representatives — we must find common ground, compromise and effective resolutions."

I've met with Mansoor, and I will discuss my interview with him in next week's column.

It was during the forum that Rush first caught my attention. At both the debate and the breakfast, he was poised, confident and focused.

The quotation I used to describe the level head he exhibited then is worth repeating today: "The 19th Street Bridge is D.O.A. 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."

Rush's idea of achieving the aforementioned reform in Sacramento is based on the concept of the greater good — that is, taking a particular position because it is in the best interest of the state to do so, not because it conforms to a party position.

"Everyone shares in the pain. Everyone shares in the benefit," Rush said.

Rush was passionate about his desire to try to bring some closure to the petty party politics that have helped turn California into a weak and unmanageable state.

"The two major parties have vastly different points of view," he said, "but it's the people in between who suffer."

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

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