Moorlach earns big lead in senate reelection bid

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Sen. John Moorlach chats with residents after speaking at a Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club. Photo by Sara Hall

By Bradley Zint, Special to the Independent

Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) held a strong lead Wednesday over two challengers in his reelection to represent Laguna Beach and other coastal Orange County cities in the 37th Senate District.

At a Republican Party of Orange County event in Newport Beach, Moorlach discussed the importance of Republican candidates maintaining and retaking seats in the state Senate to counteract the debt generated by the Democrat-controlled legislature.

“We have to fight for California,” Moorlach said. “We have to give something better to our kids than the amount of debt, pension benefits and all the things we are asking our kids to pay and our grandkids. That’s got to change.”

Republicans view Orange County as “ground zero for the California Republican comeback,” state GOP chairwoman Jessica Patterson said Tuesday.

Andrew Marc Di Giovanna said his family was “politically blinded” while he was growing up. Di Giovanna became involved in politics after realizing how it impacts his family and friends. As the lead youth organizer for Republican congressional candidate Michelle Steel’s campaign, Di Giovanna has seen an increase in the number of younger volunteers and claims that “youth is fundamental to [a] grassroots campaign.”

Di Giovanna supports Republican candidates, including Steel, because they share his values limiting taxes and opposing the new state regulations of independent contractors created by Assembly Bill 5, he said.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley was in third place in her state Senate bid Tuesday, following far behind incumbent but closely trailing challenger Dave Min in early results.

As of Wednesday, Foley had captured 40,352 votes for the 37th District seat, about 1,570 shy of Min’s 41,921 and well below Moorlach’s 82,120.

Under California’s primary system, the top two vote-getters will advance to November’s primary election.

The 37th District, which Moorlach has represented since winning a special election for the seat in 2015, includes Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and portions of Anaheim, Huntington Beach, and Orange.

On Tuesday night, Foley’s supporters were gathered at the Orange County Labor Federation offices in Orange. As the night wore on, dozens of people trickled into the Rampart Street building.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley, a candidate for the 37th state Senate District, addresses the crowd during her election night party Tuesday night at the Orange County Labor Federation offices in Orange. (Photo by Bradley Zint)

In her remarks following the early results, Foley told supporters that she would continue to fight for “values that you all stand for, to make sure that families in Orange County don’t have to work four jobs to pay their rent, to buy groceries and send their kids to school with supplies.”

Foley called her movement “about making sure that everybody gets to feel part of the California and the Orange County dream, not just rich people, but everyone. That is why there is pushback against us. I’m going to remain optimistic tonight.”

Melissa Fox, a candidate for the 68th state Assembly District, said many votes would still be counted after Tuesday that could sway the Democrats’ way.

“We know that for the blue wave, the tide has just pulled up, guys, because that tsunami is coming,” she said.

Some of Foley’s Costa Mesa neighbors were in attendance to cheer on her campaign.

Terri Fuqua said she thought Foley could help create effective legislation to address sober-living homes, which are prevalent throughout the county and reportedly troublesome for neighborhoods.

“I’ve never seen anybody accomplish so much,” Fuqua said of Foley. “She’s juggling balls in the air and none of them drop.”

Rachel Perry noted Foley’s recent effort to prevent the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa from becoming a quarantine zone for coronavirus patients.

“There’s no one like her,” Perry said. “She’s heads above every other politician. She fights for the people. She’s always thinking about the needs of the community.”

Gilbert Davila, president of the Orange County Labor Federation, said candidates like Foley fight for good-paying jobs so that workers can continue to give back to their communities.

“We need to, more than ever, stick together strategically and organize together to win in November,” he said. “Not just in Washington, D.C., but in the state of California, in our counties, in Orange County, and all the way down to school boards and water boards.”

Foley, an employment attorney whose firm is based in Newport Beach, announced her state Senate bid at the beginning of the year. She became Costa Mesa’s first directly elected mayor in 2018 after serving more than a decade on the City Council as well years on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

Moorlach, who lives in Costa Mesa, is a former county supervisor and treasurer-tax collector. Min, an Irvine resident, is a law professor at UC Irvine.

Reporting for this story was contributed by Abbie DeMuth.

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  1. Why is Dave Min, at this writing in second place and probably Moorlach’s challenger, almost missing from this story? Equally odd: why is Moorlach touted as having a big lead, when Democrats Min and Foley together have almost exactly the same number of votes as Moorlach, a Republican? Whatever your political party, this is a 50/50 race at this point.

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