District 1: Councilmember Denise Barnes Switches From Republican to Democrat

Anaheim Councilmember Jose F. Moreno and allies absorb UNITE-HERE Local 11 boss Ada Briceno talk about taking over the City Council.

When she campaigned for Anaheim City Council from District 1 in 2016, Denise Barnes was a Republican. She sought and received the endorsement of the conservative, pro-life Anaheim Republican Assembly. She unsuccessfully sought the endorsement of the Republican Party of Orange County.

Since then, Barnes has drifted steadily left-ward: supporting rent control, calling for new taxes, standing and clapping at a Bernie Sanders rally, attending Anaheim Democrat Club meetings, accusing council colleagues of “racism” when they don’t support her motions, and making common political cause with the effort by leftist Councilman Jose F. Moreno and his political coalition to seize control of the council in the November 2020 elections.

That rapid political shift culminated on June 12 with Barnes changing her party registration from Republican to Democrat – quite a distance to move in such a short period of time.

With Barnes’ switch to the Democrat Party, none of the Team Tait candidate slate from 2016 remains in the GOP. Mark Lopez, Tait’s pick in District 5 that year, had switched from No Party Preference to Republican in order to run, picking up the OC GOP endorsement.  He lost to now-Councilman Steve Faessel. Less than two years later, Lopez had switched back to No Party Preference, got hired by the Anaheim Union High School District and became a teachers union activist.  The other two Tait candidates, Moreno and District 4 candidate Arturo Ferreras, of course, were already left-wing Democrats.

Barnes is presumably a candidate for re-election, but still has not filed a re-election campaign committee, and cannot raise funds for a November campaign until she does.

Although Barnes is now a registered Democrat, any play for the Democratic Party of Orange County endorsement would be problematic. One can assume she would have the support of Moreno and his followers. At the same time, her more conservative positions such as her pro-life stance and past support for public employee pension reform would be hard to the liberal-to-left DPOC membership to swallow.


  1. Nicholas Latimer

    Thank you for revealing the truth. I have been wondering if Jose and Denise are in the same party, apparently “Yes”. Has Denise submitted her papers for election?

  2. It’s good she moved to where she belongs. I wish more masquerading Democrats, Independents, and LIbertarians in the Republican party would leave to parties that better suite their ideals. They do little more for the party than cause problems. That said, those people that easily masquerade as something other than are NOT trustworthy.

  3. Councilmember Barnes is just an honest person doing good work for good reasons. It’s a non-partisan seat and her pro-life position is outside the purview of Anaheim City Council and should have no bearing in a voter’s decision.

    What should hold sway, is that she has shown herself to be strong, compassionate, honest, forthright, and an ambassador of kindness for the City of Anaheim.

    I wish her well and great luck in the upcoming election.

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