August 8, 2022

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The 26 candidates competing in the June 7 primary for nine Assembly seats that cover...

The 26 candidates competing in the June 7 primary for nine Assembly seats that cover portions of Orange County raised a combined $2.7 million in 2021, according to campaign finance reports due to the state this week.
That figure is expected to shoot up significantly over the next four months, particulary since redistricting shuffled boundaries in late December and at least 14 serious candidates entered local Assembly races after the close of the lastest reporting period for fundraising. But a look at 2021 totals still offers an early clue at which races will be heated this year and which candidates are likely to struggle to get enough funds to be competitive.
Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, easily raised the most money of any local contender last year.
The two-term incumbent is moving over to run for the new 73rd District, which includes Irvine, Costa Mesa and Tustin and favors Democrats by 13 points. Petrie-Norris took in $807,176 in donations in 2021 and ended the year with $637,699 in campaign cash.
That total, combined with the advantage in voter registration, give Petrie-Norris an upper hand even though she’s the only state incumbent competing locally against another incumbent.
Also in the AD-73 race is Assemblyman Steven Choi, R-Irvine, who’s in his third term. Choi raised $148,491 in 2021 and finished the year with $148,932.
In second place in terms of 2021 fundraising – and first in terms of cash on hand at the end of the year – was Assemblyman Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, who’s running in a new 68th District that includes all or portions of Santa Ana, Orange and Anaheim, favors Democrats by 29.8 points and is majority Latino. The incumbent raised $494,551 last year and closed it out with $1.1 million, with significant cash rolled over after five terms in office and a lack of serious competition in recent elections.
Someone who hopes to change that by challenging Daly from the left is Bulmaro “Boomer” Vicente, D-Santa Ana, who is policy director for Chispa. But Vicente entered the race Jan. 18 and hasn’t filed campaign finance reports yet.
Not far behind Daly when it came to fundraising last year was Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, who’s running for the new 67th District. The district includes Fullerton, Buena Park, Cypress and west Anaheim plus Cerritos in L.A. County. It favors Democrats by 17.4 points and is majority Asian American. Quirk-Silva, who is a 4-term incumbent, raised $447,247 and had $619,322 cash as of Dec. 31.
Two AD-67 challengers – Democrat Paramvir “Param” Brar and Republican Sou Moua of Stanton – haven’t reported any fundraising.
In fourth place in terms of local Assembly fundraising is Phillip Chen, R-Brea, a three-term incumbent who raised $378,803 last year and ended it with $249,766 in campaign cash. He isn’t facing any challengers yet in his bid for the solidly red 59th District, which includes Yorba Linda, Placentia, Brea, Anaheim Hills and North Tustin along with Chino Hills in San Bernardino County.
Next up is Assemblywoman Laurie Davies, R-Laguna Niguel, a freshman who’s running for the new 74th District that stretches from Laguna Niguel south along the coast to Oceanside in San Diego County and favors the GOP by 0.6 points. Davies raised $227,805 for her campaign in 2021 and had $128,800 cash as of Dec. 31.
Democratic challenger Laurie Girand, D-San Juan Capistrano, who’s a well-known local activist and technology consultant, entered the race just before the end of the year and kicked in $100,000 of her own money on Dec. 31.
San Clemente Mayor Pro Tem Chris Duncan, who’s a Democrat, entered the AD-74 race after the start of the new year.
An Assembly race with no incumbent is the 72nd District, which covers north coastal O.C. from Seal Beach to Laguna Beach. Newport Beach Councilwoman Diane Dixon, who’s got the backing of the local GOP, raised $105,580 in 2021 and ended the year with $104,596 cash.
While the district favors Republicans by 6.5 points, Dixon faces a challenger who also has name recognition in Democrat Judie Mancuso, an animal rights activist from Laguna Beach. Mancuso entered the race Jan. 18 and hasn’t reported fundraising yet.
Neither has Republican AD-72 challenger Benjamin Yu, who’s a businessman from Lake Forest.
Same goes for five Democrats who’ve won office before and have pulled paperwork to run for the solidly blue and majority Latino 64th District seat, which includes southern L.A. County cities plus La Habra. Candidates include Cudahy Mayor Elizabeth Alcantar, Norwalk school board member Roberto “Rob” Cancio, La Habra Councilwoman Rose Espinoza, Downey Mayor Blanca Pacheco and Norwalk Vice Mayor Ana Valencia.
However, candidates have to file special reports within days if they get donations of $5,000 or more from a single source. On Jan. 15, Pacheco reported loaning her campaign $50,000. two weeks later, Valencia loaned herself $100,000.

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One Democrat – Garden Grove Mayor Pro Tem Diedre Nguyen – and four Republicans — Fountain Valley Councilman Ted Bui, Los Alamitos nonprofit consultant Emily Hibard, Westminster Councilwoman Kimberly Ho and Westminster Mayor Tri Ta – are running for the solidly blue 70th District centered around Little Saigon. But they all entered the race after the start of the year, so no fundraising reports are available.
That’s also true for Temecula Mayor Matt Rahn and Jennifer Richter, who are both Republicans running for the solidly red 71st District that includes Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita, unincorporated south O.C. and canyon communities, and Riverside County cities.
Candidates have until March 11 to file formal declarations to run for office. The next campaign finance reports, covering Jan. 1 through April 23, are due by April 28. And the top two vote-getters in each race during the June primary will advance to the November election.


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