Wu: A few lessons from the 74th District primary race

Among the self-help and recovery groups, it is thought that if things are not going right in your life, you need to take responsibility for your actions and not blame others for your problems.

It’s too easy to say it’s so-and-so’s fault that I’m unhappy or this person’s fault that I lost that promotion. However, taking responsibility for one’s actions isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes lots of work and self-awareness, but it can be done.

I have thought about this during this year’s primary election season.

First, in the 74th Assembly District, there are candidate and Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle’s interactions with Costa Mesa blogger Geoff West, who publishes A Bubbling Cauldron, where she blamed her questionable performance at the Feet to the Fire Forum on everyone but herself.


Fellow Councilman Rush Hill was quoted in a recent Daily Pilot article blaming Daigle’s opponent, Democrat Bob Rush, saying, “I think he was a spoiler.”

He then blamed the press, saying, “Everyone came out against her in the media,” and that the media coverage was unfair (“Mansoor, Rush likely to advance,” June 7).

So it’s the media and Rush’s fault that Daigle garnered 23% of the vote, while Rush got 33% and Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) received 43%? (Disclosure: I consider both men friends)

So it’s the media’s fault that, as written in the above Pilot article, that “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 and declined a second debate invitation.”


The result was a generally unflattering portrayal by columnists in the Orange County Register, Daily Pilot, Newport Beach Independent and other news outlets and blogs?

And of course, it has to be someone else’s fault that Daigle chose not to attend the Laguna Beach League of Women Voter’s forum (“Mansoor, Rush debate issues,” May 27).

In the post-election aftermath, Daigle was quoted in the Orange County Register as saying Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh and its endorsement of Mansoor may have been a factor in Charles Munger Jr.'s decision to make such a large donation, but then she graciously accepted defeat.

“Although I am disappointed,” she said, “I am proud of the way my campaign was run and grateful for my supporters. It was a positive learning experience for me and everyone.”

The 20% gap between Mansoor and Daigle’s votes reminded us of a few things.

First, while money plays a major part in elections, it doesn’t guarantee victory.

Baugh said to the Register: “The message tonight is: '[Charles Munger Jr.'s] money doesn’t work in Orange County,’ demonstrating that a very organized and strong ground game can indeed trump big dollars.”

For the month leading up to election, my inbox was filled with notices of the daily Get Out the Vote efforts for Mansoor, while I heard no peep from Daigle’s camp.


Second, although the newly redrawn 74th District only included 20% of Mansoor’s previous district, and although the new district’s demographics were completely different than his old one, he was still the incumbent — one that the OCGOP supported early because that is its policy, to protect all of their incumbents as long as they are in good standing. The Democrats do the same thing.

To take out an incumbent, you need the perfect situation and the perfect candidate. The Newport Beach City Council incumbents in 2010, Nancy Gardner and Michael Henn, didn’t even have opponents, and I seriously doubt that the 2012 incumbents, Keith Curry and Ed Selich, will either.

Finally, and probably the most serious lesson, is that we were reminded as to why the council has never, in its 106 years, ever had a member elected to a higher office.

Although Daigle originally voted against it on March, 13, 2007, mailer after mailer attacked Daigle for her April 14, 2009, vote for the 3% @ 50 pension for lifeguards, where six of the seven council members officially agreed to give retiring lifeguards more than $108,000 for the rest of their lives at the retirement age of 51. Councilman Steve Rosansky voted against it.

Any of those six council members who want to run for higher office will see that mailer hit mailboxes over and over again, just as Daigle did.

The irony with that is that Daigle was the one who had given that information to the press in the first place, emailing it to the Register and Pilot for about two weeks before I eventually got it and made it international news for the Newport Beach Independent. She technically provided the information, which would eventually be used against her.

Now onto November. The overwhelming Republican voter registration edge in the 74th District all but guarantees Mansoor a second term. But much can happen in the next five months.

JACK WU is an accountant who lives in Newport Beach and practices in Costa Mesa. He is a longtime Republican Party loyalist and a volunteer campaign treasurer for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa). His column runs Sundays on the Daily Pilot Forum page. He can be reached at