These committee meetings can have a surreal aspect, and last night was no exception. Although Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray and Councilwoman Gail Eastman had submitted their applications for the endorsement two weeks ago, it was not until they were literally standing in front of the committee that Chairman Mark Bucher told them their request could not be considered at all because they hadn’t taken the pledge not to accept contributions from public employee unions. That could have been communicated earlier.
Tom Tait’s candidates were then brought before the committee. Doug Pettibone went first. He’s a first time candidate and it showed in his pitch, which was short and consisted of telling the committee that Tait has asked him to run, and since the OC GOP has endorsed Tait, then it should also endorse him because he has been endorsed by Tait, and it would be inconsistent if they didn’t.
Vanderbilt pitched his service as an Army officer (he’s a reservist who has seen active duty abroad), school board service and made the remarkable claim to have never received any financial perks as a school board member.
Rather than regurgitate the proceedings, Chris Nguyen’s live-blogging of the meeting is a good re-cap, which you can read here.
Tom Tait made a pitch for his candidates, while former AUHSD Trustee Alexandria Coronado and Sam Han, on behalf of Assemblyman Don Wagner (who has endorsed Murray and Eastman) urged a “no endorsement” recommendation.
Ultimately, the Endorsements Committee voted 3-2 for that recommendation: Thomas Gordon, Peggy Huang and Jeff Matthews supporting “no endorsement” and Mark Bucher and Mark McCurdy opposing that recommendation
As I watched a couple of the committee members interrogating Murray and Eastman over exactly how much unions have given to their campaigns this cycle, I couldn’t but wonder at how the forest was being missed for the trees. Unions and left-wing groups have contributed at least $150,000 to a by-district elections initiative intended to put the Anaheim City Council into the hands of union-aligned Democrats who will adopt (among other things) pro-government union policies. Since the whole point of the no-government-union-money pledge is to diminish the influence of government unions on local government, why harangue the candidates who are actually opposing this union/Left campaign over whether it is five, six or eight thousand dollars in union donations to their campaigns? And at the urging of the candidate who is aiding and abetting this union/Left campaign?
The whole no-union-money pledge has become counter-productive, and Pharisaical in its application: you can take government union money if you are running for partisan office, but not if you’re running for a non-partisan office. The party can endorse you if you have a government union endorsement and is supporting you with IEs, but not if you’ve received even a small direct contribution.
When he was running for the Assembly in 2010, Chris Norby was asked if he took money from public employee unions. Norby said, “Yes! I’ll take money from anyone” but he voted his political philosophy. Democrats in this state take money from business interests all day long, and vote against the interests of business all day long. For some reason, here in Orange County, we’ve decided Republicans are incapable of accepting a contribution from a public employee unions and still governing as conservatives.