Andy Thorburn Picks Up Congressional Hat, Tosses It Into OC Supervisor Ring

Andy Thorburn, from the recent Andy Thorburn for Congress collection

UPDATE, OCT. 9, 11:40 A.M.: The Cisneros campaign points out he registered to vote in Yorba Linda on Aug. 31, 2017, after he and his wife purchased and moved into their home next to her mother that July.

The campaign supplied the Weekly a copy of Cisneros’ voter registration card with that date noted. The DCCC candidate training occurred the week of Oct. 9, 2017.

Also, regarding the campaign’s internal polling in the congressional race against Young Kim, they pointed to another poll by the Los Angeles Times last week with similar findings to their own.

ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 9, 6:14 A.M.: Andy Thorburn, who dumped $2.3 million of his fortune into his 39th congressional district primary election campaign, only to wind up in fourth place, announced Monday he is running for the Orange County Board of Supervisors Third District seat currently held by Todd Spitzer.

And Thorburn says he is starting with a $1 million war chest and an Orange County Professional Firefighters Association Local 3631 endorsement.

“It’s time for a more responsive, efficient and effective county government that actually works for the people of Orange County. From a homelessness crisis to crumbling roads, an opioid epidemic, underfunded public safety, schools that lack adequate resources and more–it’s time for a major overhaul at the Orange County Board of Supervisors,” says Thorburn in a statement.

“I’m running for Orange County supervisor to bring my real-life experiences in business to the board, to ensure that government is held accountable, to expand transparency, take on corruption wherever it exists, and to build a better, safer, healthier and more effective Orange County for all of us.”

While the former insurance executive can brag about having already received more votes than a sitting supervisor–he finished June’s congressional primary 3,240 votes ahead of the Fourth District’s Shawn Nelson–Thorburn only received 9.2 percent of the total vote in a race where the three ahead of him had double-digit percentages and only the top two advanced to the General Election. Squaring off Nov. 6 are Republican Young Kim, who received 21.2 percent of the vote, and Thorburn’s fellow Democrat Gil Cisneros, who ended with 19.4 percent.

Cisneros, a former Navy officer, spent $2 million in the primary from his own fortune built with California lottery winnings. Recent national polls showed Kim comfortably ahead of Cisneros, although his campaign released internal polling Monday that indicates he is now slightly ahead*. (*See the update.)

Spitzer won another four-year term on the Board of Supervisors in 2016, but he is currently running for district attorney against his former mentor-turned-bitter enemy, incumbent DA Tony Rackauckas. If Spitzer wins, it would set up the need for a special election to fill the remainder of his current Third District term. If he loses, he can remain the supervisor at least until 2020, when Thorburn could conceivably still challenge.

That might produce a fireworks display that makes Disneyland’s look wimpy in comparison. Sam Jammal, another Democrat who ran in the 39th primary, called it “the weirdest race in the country” due to the number of candidates, “unprecedented amount of money” spent and “negativity” that could have kept any member of his party from making the runoff, even though more district voters chose Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Clinton’s showing prompted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee PAC to invite Cisneros, Thorburn and pediatrician Mai Khanh Tran to a candidate training session in the fall of 2017, even though none* of them resided within the 39th district boundaries at the time. (*See the update.)

Democrats figured the more strong candidates in the race, the better since the top two vote-getters from any party would advance to the general election under California’s open primary system. Those plans were thrown into disarray on Jan. 8, when longtime incumbent Ed Royce (R-Brea) announced he would not seek reelection. That created the very real possibility that eight announced Democratic candidates would cancel one another out and only two Republican front-runners would reach the general.

Under heavy Democratic pressure to thin their own herd, two party loyalists with some local name recognition–Jay Chen and Phil Janowicz, who’d actually been the first candidate to announce he was running–dropped out in March. Tran, Jammal, Cisneros, Thorburn and fellow Democrats Herbert H. Lee and Suzi Park Leggett remained on the June primary ballot that included 11 other candidates, including eight Republicans.

Tran and Jammal had been informed by top Democratic officials that the party would only be helping Cisneros and Thorburn, who went on to torpedo one another with accusations and denials. Cisneros accused Thorburn of tax evasion. Thorburn accused Cisneros of leaving a voice-mail message threatening to “go negative.” Cisneros claimed the voice mail was manufactured and accused Thorburn of fraud.

At the height of the MeToo movement, a female state Assembly candidate accused Cisneros of sexual impropriety, which prompted his campaign to label her a Thorburn surrogate. She has since recanted. (See “Will a Recanted Sexual Harassment Allegation Save Gil Cisneros?”)

It got so bad that the Democratic Party brass had a sit down with Cisneros and Thorburn, telling them to knock it off lest no member of the party advance to the general. The pair reportedly agreed they would only campaign against Republicans from there on out.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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