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Moorlach sworn in as state senator and ready to get started in Sacramento

Moorlach sworn in as state senator and ready to get started in Sacramento
Former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach declared victory Thursday in the race for a state Senate seat. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

John Moorlach was officially sworn in Sunday as state senator for the 37th District after receiving more than 50% of the vote in last week's special election and thereby avoiding a run-off in May.

The ceremony for Moorlach, a Costa Mesa Republican and former county supervisor, was held at the Orange County Rescue Mission in Tustin.

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Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) officiated.

The March 17 election results were certified Friday. Moorlach received 38,125 votes, or 50.3%.

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"I really want to thank the voters for giving me enough votes to finish in the first round," Moorlach said in an interview Monday. "I'm looking forward to trying to make this state a better place."

Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine) received 33,411 votes, or 44%. Behind the two men, both Republicans, were congressional aide Naz Namazi, a Republican Irvine resident, who got 2,621 votes, or 3.5%, and Louise Stewardson, a Democratic write-in candidate and nurse from Huntington Beach, who received 1,696, or 2.2%.

Voter turnout was 15.7%, or 77,147 ballots, of which about 66,000 were vote-by-mail.

Moorlach's term lasts through December 2016. He replaces Mimi Walters, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives last year.

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The 37th state Senate district includes Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach and portions of Huntington Beach.

Moorlach said he plans to travel to Sacramento this week to get acclimated. He said he is working on hiring his staff and finding a location for his 37th District office. He said he would like it to be in Costa Mesa.

Because his start date is just before the spring legislative recess, Moorlach said he will not be able to submit any legislation but will still have plenty to do.

"I see myself dealing with what's already there and doing a lot of research on issues that I find to be hot-button topics," he said.

Those include controlling the costs of medical benefits for retired state employees and putting an end to the so-called underground economy — in which businesses do not report payroll information or follow workers' compensation law — a topic recently explored by the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency.

"I certainly have constituents here in my district that are concerned about that," Moorlach said. "We're gonna try to level the playing field and make sure those who aren't playing fairly are routed out and honest businesses aren't going broke because of it."

Moorlach also plans to fight plans for a toll lane for portions of the 405 Freeway in Orange County and examine the complex issues surrounding sober-living homes — a particular source of frustration in Costa Mesa neighborhoods.

"I'll be keeping my staff busy," Moorlach said.

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