Anaheim City School District Trustee James Vanderbilt

Anaheim City School District Trustee James Vanderbilt

UPDATED at the end of the post with additional information from another source.

One of the questions about this November’s election is who Mayor Tom Tait will recruit to run for city council in an attempt to build a majority and end what will be three years of isolation from his council colleagues. A telephone survey of Anaheim voters conducted this morning gives some indication of who those candidates might be.

I was briefed on the questions asked by a source who was surveyed this morning, and judging by the nature of the questions it seems very likely it was commissioned either by Tait’s mayoral campaign or by a person or organization interested in supporting his re-election.

The survey ran through a predictable array of issues, followed by asking respondents if Tait’s stance on the issue made them more or less likely to vote for him. For example, respondents were told Tait was the only vote against the GardenWalk deal or the Angels negotiation framework, and then asked if that made the respondent more or less likely to support Tait. Other issues used in this way were Tait’s support for requiring a city-wide vote on using TOT-rebate programs to encourage luxury hotel development or for single-member council districts.

The survey also tested messages against Lucille Kring and Lorri Galloway; for example, saying Kring reneged on a promise to oppose the GardenWalk deal and then asking if that made the responded more or less likely to support her.

The survey also probed voter attitudes on the Angels negotiations; for example, asking respondents (according to my source) if they were supportive of the framework if it were the only way to keep the Angels in Anaheim.

The survey also tested Tait’s potential vulnerabilities: respondents were informed about his firm’s contracts with the City of Garden Grove on its heavily-subsidized water park project and whether that made them more or less likely to support Tait’s re-election.

Also tested were voter attitudes toward several past, actual and potentially future council candidates: incumbents Gail Eastman and Kris Murray, Brian Chuchua, Rudy Gaona, Linda Linder, John Leos, Jose Moreno, Paul Kott, James Vanderbilt and Roger Trapp.

Sometimes respondents were asked for a yes or no on a candidate while being given nothing but their name: John Leos, Paul Kott, Brian Chuchua, Rudy Gaona and Linda Linder fell into this category.

Jose Moreno was described as a member of MEChA, a radical movement seeking to push Latinos into “Chicanismo.” Tait and Moreno are close, and this was probably inserted to see if Moreno’s radicalism makes him a non-starter as a council candidate.

According to the person I spoke with, the poll focused more attention on two candidates than on any others: Anaheim City School District Trustee James Vanderbilt and someone named Roger Trapp. Before being told their names, respondents were read descriptions of two unnamed candidates: one a local school board member and Iraqi War veteran (Vanderbilt), the other a business VP and life-long Anaheim resident (Trapp). Among things, respondents asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for Vanderbilt and Trapp for council if they were endorsed by Mayor Tait – a question not asked of any other candidates. It stands to reason the sponsor of the poll has more interest in determining the viability of these candidates more than the others.

Both Vanderbilt and Trapp are Republicans. Vanderbilt is a former member of the Anaheim Planning Commission and was first elected to the ACSD Board of Trustees in 2004 (when he ran as James Vanderbilt-Linares). His endorsement history is pretty establishment: John Koos for council in 2002 (Koos’s public affairs firm has been engaged by the Tait campaign); Jordan Brandman for AUHSD Board in 2010; Tom Daly for Assembly in 2012.

As for Trapp (I’m assuming my source heard the name correctly – the person conducting the poll mangled the names of a few individuals, according to my source): I don’t know anything yet, but will update the post when that changes.

Assuming this poll was sponsored by the Tait campaign (and I think that’s a pretty safe bet), it indicates Tait is focusing on the November council election much earlier than in 2012 – when he reneged on one given endorsement (Steve Lodge) and on a promised one (Jordan Brandman) a few months before the election and endorsed two candidates who were already in the race (John Leos and Lucille Kring). Judging from this poll, it sounds more like the mayor is engaged in recruiting candidates rather than picking from what’s available.

UPDATE: Another source who was polled expressed little doubt it was sponsored by the Tait for Mayor campaign, saying the wording was biased and seemed to designed to suggest the “correct” answer. The GardenWalk agreement was characterized as a “tax give-away” and the Angels negotiations described in “billionaire vs. residents” terms.

Again, that sounds like message testing to see if such messaging resonates with the voters, and gives an indication of what Mayor Tait’s re-election themes will be.