The Orange County Republican Party Central Committee on Monday endorsed controversial candidate Gracey Larrea-Van Der Mark for the Ocean View School District Board of Trustees–much to the chagrin of the Anaheim-based Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA).
Meanwhile, Larrea-Van Der Mark’s support from Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s study buddy) is being blasted by the Democratic candidate facing off against the 15-term congressman on Nov. 6.
As the Weekly has reported, Larrea-Van Der Mark has curated a “Holocaust hoax?” YouTube playlist, promoted Islamophobic conspiracy theories on Facebook, referred to African Americans as “colored people” and protested a white privilege workshop alongside alt-right agitators who were scheduled speakers at Charlottesville’s Unite the Right rally days later.
“It is unconscionable that the OC GOP would endorse a candidate who has proven herself to be an equal-opportunity bigot,” says CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush in a statement. “That the OC GOP would make Ms. Larrea-Van Der Mark its sole endorsed candidate in this race–especially over other Republican candidates–is both shocking and telling of the message the party is sending to its constituency.”
Ayloush, whose office is part of America’s largest Islamic civil liberties and advocacy organization, pointed to a statewide report on school bullying that found 53 percent of 1,041 Muslim students in California surveyed were bullied over their religion in 2016.
“At a time when biased-driven school bullying is at an all-time high, the last thing our schools need is a bully and a bigot setting the vision and goals of a school district,” he says. “I am extremely disappointed that the leadership of the Orange County Republican Party would endorse such a divisive candidate. I hope the voters will send a clear message that bigotry and ignorance have no place in our schools.”
Larrea-Van Der Mark’s conservative views and work on two school district bond oversight committees were cited as an endorsement panel unanimously forwared its recommendation of the candidate to the full GOP central committee.
According to minutes from that panel meeting, there was no mention of the fact that Larrea-Van Der Mark was removed from the school committees because of her racially charged views and actions. One GOP endorsement panel member, retired Air Force officer Leroy Mills, did criticize Democrats for bullying Republicans before making the successful motion on Larrea-Van Der Mark’s behalf.
The CAIR statement hit the Weekly‘s inbox just after another from Harley Rouda, who is running against Rohrabacher for the 48th congressional district seat. It was in reference to Rohrabacher having tweeted on Tuesday: “Proud to be supporting Gracey Van Der Mark for school board. She is a patriot and a parent who has great potential to make a difference for our children and our state … and yes, our country.”
“Dana Rohrabacher’s endorsement of Ms. Larrea-Van Der Mark as a candidate for Huntington Beach School Board is simply wrong,” Rouda says. “Dana’s embrace of a school board candidate who professes bigoted ideas, who associates with white supremacists and anti-Semites, means Dana is embracing hate. Let me be clear, Dana’s choice to endorse bigotry, when hate crimes in the United States are on a perilous rise, goes far beyond the politics of any election. For the public good, for the safety of all our citizens, bigotry and hatred must be confronted, disrupted and dismantled. That is the true work of a true patriot. It’s dangerous when Dana labels white supremacists as patriots. Dangerous and against everything our country stands for in the world.
“The voters of Orange County have a clear choice on November 6th to reject a failed Member of Congress whose endorsement of Ms. Larrea-Van Der Mark is the latest instance of his homophobic, bigoted and extreme views. My campaign for Congress is a mission: to preserve, promote and expand the core values that make Orange County–that make America–great. And those core values begin with the immutable truth that our diversity as nation guarantees our greatness as a nation. Our country is built on this definition of patriotism.
“Dana Rohrabacher is a corrupted career politician who hasn’t passed a bill in 14 years and has no problem trafficking in hate and ignorance. Enough is enough. Dana Rohrabacher is unfit to lead. That’s why I am running for Congress.”
In Rohrabacher’s … uh … defense(?), when it comes to tying Larrea-Van Der Mark to speakers in Charlottesville, the congressman has essentially characterized those events in Virginia as a false-flag operation. He told the San Francisco Chronicle a year ago that Democrats were behind the August 2014 white nationalist riots–and that even calling them white nationalist riots was liberal media “baloney.”
Rohrabacher went on to blame a former Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporter for getting Civil War re-enactors to gather in Charlottesville under the guise of protecting a Robert E. Lee statue. “It was left-wingers who were manipulating them in order to have this confrontation” that was aimed at putting “our president on the spot,” the congressman reportedly said.
Actually, it sounds as if he and Gracey were made for each other.
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.