My main opponent and I have had four events in eighteen hours. Two of the venues were opportunities to share our campaign speeches before audiences, one was an individual interview by one of the County’s fine medical associations, and the fourth actually provided some fun debating exchanges. At the three public events, it was very clear that a good number of the guests, if not the majority, were very uncomfortable and disturbed by the hit pieces coming against me. It is becoming very clear that this tactic is backfiring and that his appeal to eligible voters is declining.
In a campaign you need contributors and volunteers. Thank you to our many donors, who have stepped it up in reaction to the negative onslaught. And, as I write, our headquarters is buzzing with volunteers. I am most appreciative. However, the negative hit pieces are also helping my candidacy and somehow I feel as if I should thank the consultants that are running my opponent’s campaign. I only have one small tip to share with my opponent’s advisors to consider. Would you please pick up the phone and call the Orange County Employees Retirement System and confirm my annual retirement benefit? It is nowhere close to $100,000 per year. I know that telling the truth is no fun, but telling a blatant untruth is poor form.
If you want to know more about the campaign, go to moorlachvolunteers. We’re having fun. Vote on March 17th!
The Daily Pilot has a column by Barbara Venezia on the status of the campaign (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Post-Mortem — November 7, 2014). It is running side-by-side with my editorial submission on the number of whoppers coming from my opponent. Both are below.
It looks like a sparring match between Moorlach and Wagner
By Barbara Venezia
Things are heating up in the March 17 special election for the 37th state Senate District.
Vying for this seat are former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine), a district representative for U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) named Naz Namazi, and write-in candidate Louise Stewardson, a nurse.
I read in my absentee ballot the statements of Moorlach and Wagner. Namazi didn’t have one.
What I found odd was that Namazi’s boss, Rohrabacher, endorsed Wagner. When the guy you work for doesn’t think you’re the right person for senator, that speaks volumes.
Looking at Namazi’s website didn’t convince me she was a contender either. And Stewardson, as a write-in candidate, is a long shot.
In my mind, this race is really between Moorlach and Wagner.
Each is personable, knowledgeable and passionate about wanting to serve the 960,000 people in this Senate district.
Moorlach is a certified public accountant residing in Costa Mesa.
Wagner is a lawyer from Irvine.
Both are conservative Republican voices.
I asked why they felt people should vote for them.
"I have 18 years of private-sector experience and 20 years of county experience," Moorlach said. "The biggest issue in Sacramento is financial, and I want to try to address the budget as efficiently as I did when I was a county supervisor."
Wagner said, "I’ve been up in Sacramento for the last four years carrying the conservative Republican banner."
He added that he’s promoted Republican values and policies by contributing to party candidates statewide. Moorlach hasn’t, he asserted.
"I have had to work in Sacramento with people who differ with me, but I still have gotten my bills through," Wagner said, pointing out that Moorlach’s only had to work with fellow his Republican supervisors.
Moorlach takes exception, saying he worked with the Democratic leadership in the Senate to get funding from Proposition 63 so that the county could become the first to adopt the mental health-focused Laura’s Law. That funding source enabled other counties around the state to also adopt it.
As expected, both candidates have a list of politicos and organizations endorsing them.
But some of Moorlach’s past supporters have jumped ship to Wagner’s team, including lobbyist Christie McDaniel. Her name appears on Wagner’s host committee for an upcoming fundraiser at Bob "Stop the Dock Tax" McCaffrey’s Newport home.
"I committed to supporting Wagner last November, months before Moorlach got in the race," McDaniel said.
Wagner’s "genuinely grateful" for the support of McCaffrey and political consultant Dave Ellis in Newport Beach, where he admits Moorlach has more name recognition.
Moorlach says seeing friends’ names like McDaniel’s on the invitation is a bit disheartening, but it’s politics.
"Lobbyists didn’t like the way I ran my shop, I guess," he says. "I had to represent the taxpayers, and if I have to pay the price for it, so be it."
McDaniel says it’s not about that. Though she likes Moorlach personally, she feels Wagner is more familiar with the political landscape in Sacramento and can get more done.
Former Newport Mayor Rush Hill is supporting Moorlach. Seeing that McCaffrey and Ellis were behind Wagner was a deal-breaker for him.
In McCaffrey’s email invitation to the Wagner fundraiser at his home, he wrote, "John Moorlach is a fine man, but he’s lost his way with the endorsement of our defeated mayor Rush Hill."
Clearly McCaffrey and Hill have not moved past last year’s nasty election cycle in which Hill lost his seat to electric-boat pioneer Marshall "Duffy" Duffield.
But Hill said voters shouldn’t forget that the new John Wayne Airport Settlement Agreement and extension of the flight curfew wouldn’t have happened if not for Moorlach. That’s why he feels Moorlach should be our next state senator.
Wagner’s fundraising goal is $500,000, and he plans on about 14 mailings. Out of the gate, he’s gone negative with hit pieces that accuse Moorlach of raising taxes.
"I’m complimented by this false attack," Moorlach said in an email to supporters. "It implies that I am ahead and in need of nasty mail pieces to help give my main opponent a reasonable chance. But stooping to the misuse of terms in slick mail pieces is disingenuous, desperate and dishonest."
Moorlach said he’s never raised taxes and couldn’t because 92% of county revenue comes from property taxes, which the board can’t raise.
He admitted to raising fees when specific services were below the actual cost of providing those services. "Otherwise, all taxpayers are subsidizing those who come to government for specific and unique services," he says.
Moorlach criticized Wagner for taking union money from police officers and firefighters.
Wagner said the money is going to go somewhere, so it might as well go to someone like him because, "I will vote with my values. I am happy to take money that is buying into my agenda. "
It’s going to be an interesting race.
Who’ll get your vote?
BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1.
Commentary: Campaign hit pieces distort taxpayer-friendly record
By John Moorlach
One of the major reasons that good citizens do not run for public office is that they don’t like the negativity seen in most campaigns. A more troubling concern is when the mudslinging is inaccurate.
I got involved in public service after Orange County declared bankruptcy. I cut spending, eliminated risky investments and helped put the county on a fiscally conservative path to recovery. Then, as county supervisor, I helped reform pension negotiations so that everything was transparent. The board also fought to change how retiree medical benefits are handed out, saving taxpayers $100 million a year.
No property or sales tax increase has been requested or made by the Board of Supervisors in the last eight years. Not one tax increase.
However, I attempted to reduce and eliminate a number of fees. And if we could eliminate or reduce a taxpayer subsidy by having the end-user foot the bill for the service he or she needed, rather than require taxpayers to pick up the cost, then I supported that as well. I see this as being pro-taxpayer. Accordingly, the Orange County Register called me one of the most fiscally level-headed elected officials in the county.
My opponent in the state Senate race is funded by a number of public employee unions. Public employee unions tried to thwart my campaign efforts in my run for supervisor in 2006, when I pointed out that their big pension benefits threatened to send Orange County back into bankruptcy.
Now my opponent is spending his campaign money to tell voters inaccuracies about my record. He’s twisting the yearly county reauthorization of fees into a claim that I’m somehow against taxpayers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’ve deferred fees. When the construction industry was in its darkest hours during the Great Recession, I presented a temporary solution of deferring developer fees until the close of escrow on newly built homes. This allowed cash-strapped developers to build, to provide jobs and to avoid borrowing costs at a time when lending institutions were reluctant to lend.
My opponent states that I voted to double my vacation time. Small problem: Elected county officials do not receive vacation time or sick leave. There was nothing to double. It still would have been zero.
On the pension front, the defined contribution plan for elected officials had to be increased from 6% to 8% to provide a Social Security equivalent (7.65%) for future Board of Supervisors members who wished to opt out of the defined benefit pension plan. This vote will save the taxpayers a significant amount of money in the future when supervisors, like Shawn Nelson, opt out of the plan.
But that’s the way the game is played. My opponent hasn’t accomplished anything of substance in the state Legislature, so he has no option other than to distort my very strong, pro-taxpayer record. And the public employee unions are bankrolling his efforts.
It’s not fun being the recipient of campaign hit pieces. It’s even less fun when the facts are twisted or taken out of context. I’m proud of my record of service, having saved the county’s taxpayers nearly $2 billion. I also believe that the voters will see through these desperate attacks.
My campaign is based upon my accomplishments and a desire to continue to work to achieve fiscal solvency for California.
Former Orange County Supervisor JOHN MOORLACH, a Costa Mesa resident, is running for state Senate in the 37th District.
This e-mail has been sent from the Moorlach for Senate campaign.