City Hall Observers Predict Both Moreno and Vanderbilt Will Run for City Council

Jose Moreno megaphone cropped

Jose Moreno, ACSD Board of Education trustee and left-wing activist

Anaheim City School District Trustee James Vanderbilt

Anaheim City School District Trustee James Vanderbilt

UPDATE (4:20 p.m.): I’m hearing now that Moreno is definitely running and will announce at a press conference on Friday.

Anaheim City Hall watchers I’ve spoken to believe Jose Moreno pulling papers for re-election to the Anaheim City School Board is a political head fake, and that he will actually file to run for Anaheim City Council by the end of the week (the deadline is 5:00 p.m. on August) – most likely with a press conference in front of City Hall.

The speculation had about who would be on the Tait Slate of candidates recruited by the mayor in an attempt to take out his Republican council colleagues: James Vanderbilt, Doug Pettibone or Jose Moreno. The feedback I’m getting is a de facto “all of the above” – the strategy being to stuff the ballot with Republican candidates and to the benefit of Democratic council candidates.

At this point, there are five (possibly six) Republicans on the ballot and only one Democrat: council gadfly Donna Acevedo. That changed with Moreno’s high-profile announcement last week that he had re-registered from No Party Preference to Democrat – a distinction without a difference given his ideology, but with political impact. 

There is anectodal support for this prediction. Vanderbilt (who, as yet, has not pulled his nomination papers) has told people he does not expect to win but is running to build up name ID.  That would track with a candidacy with the additional purpose of diluting GOP votes to the benefit of newly-minted Democrat Moreno, the ACSD colleague with whom he has worked closely.

As of June 30, Pettibone had put only $3,000 of his own money into his campaign account. A first-time candidate with little-to-no perceptible community involvement (not historically a recipe for success in Anaheim) would normally loan his/her campaign a significant chunk of money right out of the box in order to demonstrate seriousness about running.

Unless they anticipated strong independent expenditure support – and a reportedly significant pro-Tait IE is being put together and shopping for consultant. Or, you’ve been recruited to be another Republican council candidate and dilute the GOP vote to the benefit of a Democratic candidate.

There are a lot of moving parts to this prediction, and if true, the Tait camp would have to manage it gingerly in order to avoid jeopardizing the continuing support the mayor has within the OC GOP apparatus. After all, it wouldn’t be very cricket for the Republican mayor of the largest California city with a Republican city council to recruit GOP candidates to dilute the Republican vote to the detriment of two Republican incumbents and the benefit of a left-wing Democrat whose political philosophy is anathema to the OC GOP rank-and-file.

Again, this is the CW I’m hearing from veteran observers of Anaheim politics. I truly hope it does not come to pass. However, a number of political developments have come to pass in Anaheim that I would never have imagined as recently as two-and-half years ago; if you had asked me in the spring of 2012 if I thought the conservative Republican mayor of Anaheim would be working hand-in-glove with a left-wing campaign to enshrine liberal Democratic political control of Anaheim City Hall, I would have laughed. So, as much as I would like to discount this prediction, I can’t. 

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