OC Weekly’s 2018 Election Coverage is a Mid-Term Abhortion!

Photo by Jack Gould

Editor’s Note: This post will be constantly updated. Check back early and often for election coverage from our intrepid reporters who are following local races from Lake Forest to Anaheim, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.

And if you haven’t voted, fuck you.

–Nick Schou

Dispatches from the frontlines of Orange County’s local races…

And here we go. Anthony Pignataro, take it away!

 

Dispatch #1

The Swinging Door, Tustin. 5:16pm

It’s quiet here right now. One TV is turned to Fox News, but most of the 14 men and two women here are ignoring it. Lauren, the bartender, says it’s been that way all day. “Maybe they’re out voting?” she says, shrugging her shoulders. Two guys are playing pool near a poster of a voluptuous brunette in red dress with the caption: “No matter how good she looks… some other guy is sick and tired of putting up with her shit.”

–Anthony Pignataro

 

Dispatch #2

The Swinging Door, Tustin. 6:01pm

Place is a bit more crowded now. All day the bar was offering $4 Fireball shots for voters. But bartender Lauren says she only sold four. That’s certainly disappointing, though I’d wager that the number was low not because people didn’t vote, but because it was Fireball.

–Anthony Pignataro

 

Dispatch #3

The Swinging Door, Tustin. 6:47pm

Talking to old guy with long white beard standing next to me. I ask if he voted today, and nods. “I voted in every election except one since 1972.” I ask which one he missed. “It was 1996,” he says after thinking about it. “Wow, that was a presidential year,” I say. “Yeah, but I was… out of commission then,” he says.

–Anthony Pignataro

 

Dispatch #4

West Anaheim is looking pretty desperate for Democrats. A recent mailer from the Democratic Party of Orange County compared Republican councilman James Vanderbilt to Donald Trump undoubtedly in favor of his District 2 Democratic challenger Jordan Brandman. Their reasoning? Vanderbilt didn’t support councilwoman Kris Murray’s pathetic spectacle of a resolution condemning Trump’s divisive rhetoric in April 2016. Most didn’t. Opposition to the resolution wasn’t Trumpian but technical: council naysayers worried about the legality of dedicating staff resources against a presidential candidate…even one as pendejo as Trump!

Fun fact: if the Trump attack helps Brandman win tonight, Disney gets another councilman back on the dais. Gracias, Democrats.

–Gabriel San Roman
Dispatch #5
The Swinging Door, Tustin, 7:21pm
Drinking Pacifico while watching election returns is really the way to go. I’m so elated that voter disenfranchise King Kris Kobach (KKK?) has lost the Kansas governor’s race that I’m not even thinking about the probability that Trump will sack Jeff Sessions and make him Attorney General. Oh, wait…

–Anthony Pignataro

 

Dispatch #6

Anaheim

Anaheim mayoral candidate Cynthia Ward definitely has the coolest campaign headquarters where the Vault hookah lounge used to be on the west side. Comfy sofas, giant portraits of Egyptian Pyramids, the Citadel in Syria and the Statue of Liberty and even icicle lights make for great ambiance. The same can’t be said for the first numbers of the night.

The Republican takes to a projector screen to break it all down. Rival Republican Harry Sidhu is out in front. Ward explains that the votes are early absentee ballots where Sidhu is strongest. “Harry got nastier,” she says of the last days of the campaign. Ward is in fourth place but her supporters have faith that’ll improve as the campaign gained momentum at the end.

“This is just the very early stuff,” Ward says.

–Gabriel San Roman

 

Dispatch #7

Tustin, 9:00pm

Had to relocate back home when 1) other people in the bar demanded that the lone TV turned to the election results get switched over to a stupid Ducks game and 2) it was in everyone’s best interest that I stop drinking beer. Sitting at home now staring at the California Secretary of State’s website showing 0.0 percent of Orange County precincts have reported in, as of 8:54pm. We’re gonna be here all night, folks.

–Anthony Pignataro
Rohrabacher’s party…whooopy!
Dispatch #8
Costa Mesa, 8:41 p.m.
I must park three blocks away from Skosh Monahan’s because of all the vehicles parked outside the small Costa Mesa Irish pub and grill, including news vans from KABC, KTLA and whichever TV outlet has a giant satellite dish extending from the roof to the night sky. Once inside, I do not find a mob of energized Dana Rohrabacher supporters but bored looking fake news deliverers, awaiting the 30-year incumbent term limits champion’s emergence from the Kremlin-financed hyperbaric chamber maintaining his life force.
–Matt Coker
Dispatch #9
A church polling place in Fountain Valley, 4:30 p.m.
The first time I tried to vote at a polling place at a church in Fountain Valley I got up to the front of the line and lady asked me where I lived and I said Long Beach but I’m registered in OC. She looked at me like I had 3 heads. She asked me why I didn’t register in LA County. I said I wanted the pleasure of voting Rohrbacher’s ass out of office, and even if I can’t afford to live in OC at least I can vote here. Now hand me that provisional ballot, bitch!
–Nate Jackson
Credit: Matt Coker
Dispatch #10
Costa Mesa
10:06 p.m. Reporters are sequestered on the main floor of Skosh Monahan’s while the political schmoozing is going on upstairs. In private. So no sign of the Spliffin’ Congressman down here. One journo comes up with the bright idea to announce we are all leaving if someone doesn’t show soon.
10:10 p.m: A photographer who was just allowed up to Dr. Evil’s lair says he could have got a shot of Rohrabacher, totally passed out. “Should I have taken it?” he asks. Obviously not an OC Weekly photographer.
–Matt Coker
Dispatch #11
UFCW Local 324 union hall in Buena Park., 10:40 p.m.

Fran Sdao, chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County, introduces congressional hopeful Gil Cisneros on stage at the UFCW Local 324 union hall in Buena Park.

“We’re going to restore sanity back to government,” Cisneros says. “The wave that’s coming to California wouldn’t have happened without your hard work.”

Cisneros departed shortly after the stump speech. But his night ain’t going so well.

After the candidate heads off to his next shindig, more precincts come in. Republican Young Kim is outpacing Cisneros by a wide margin in the 39th congressional district. Only Harley Rouda is barely holding it down against Dana Rohrabacher in all the closely watched OC congressional races.

Blue wave in OC? It looks more like a ripple that’s foaming ashore.

–Gabriel San Roman
Dispatch #12

The Prospector in Long Beach, 10:05 p.m.

Here at the Prospector to see a show. I run into the band New American. Literally, I almost hit them with my car as I pull into my parking spot. I get out of the car and apologize for almost changing their name to Dead American. I then ask them if they voted. They all give a shyly suspect nod…”We’re not really a political band” the drummer says. BRUH…

Once I get inside past the door man with a trucker beard and nose piercing, I happen upon a very drunk friend of mine who says he voted. “I voted the shit outta that ballot” he says slurring his words. I voted so hard my sticker fell off. He rubs his nipple over his shirt, caressing his phantom election prize.
–Nate Jackson
Waiting for Harley in Newport Beach. Credit: Matt Coker

Dispatch #13

Newport Marriot, 10:37 p.m.
A loud cheer breaks out inside a blimp-hangar sized ballroom at the Newport Marriott, not because party host and Dana Rohrabacher’s Democratic challenger Harley Rouda has entered, but because Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is filling large screens with the live CNN feed on either side of the podium. Her speech in the wake of Abrams possibly being headed to a runoff is interrupted by several applause breaks. In Newport fucking Beach.
The atmosphere here is much more loud and festive and attended compared to the somber Rohrabacher affair up on Goat Hill (where Fox News filled TV screens-natch). Way more media, way more young people, way more free food, way better music, everything.
–Matt Coker
Dispatch #14
The Prospector, 10:47 pm

Front man of the band Bundy is sporting electric blue hair that rustled like a psychedelic Palm tree. In between songs he shouts “Cheers to those who voted!”meanwhile CNN headlines tell us Democrats are projected to take control of the House. A group of dudes gathering moss on their asses on the other side of the bar clink beer bottles in Long Beach’s louder, hipper version of Cheers.–Nate Jackson

Dispatch #15
Tustin. 11:00 p.m.
Nodding off, I notice that OC precincts are finally dribbling in, allowing me to look at the results of two races I covered this past month. In the 45th Congressional district, incumbent Republican Mimi Walters is beating Democratic challenger Katie Porter, 52.6 percent to 47.4 percent (that’s with 230 of 444 precincts reporting in). This is at least somewhat surprising, given recent polling that showed Porter leading Walters. She was also raising solid money–certainly far more than Walters’ previous challengers.

Not at all surprising is the bloodbath over in the 34th state Senate district (140 of 313 precincts counted). There, incumbent Republican Janet Nguyen is demolishing Democrat Tom Umberg, 57.2 percent to 42.8 percent. Umberg’s track record at getting elected was never good, and this was a winnable seat–Hell, there are more registered Democrats in the district than Republicans. Given that the district is also nearly 47 percent Latino, the Democrats might want to take that into consideration next time around, rather than simply find the whitest guy in the county and run him.

–Anthony Pignataro

Dispatch #16
11:13 p.m.
Another loud whoop in the Rouda ballroom for what’s on the CNN screens. But it’s not for the center-of-visual-impact breakdown of the Arizona senate race by on-screen pundits, it’s for a little graphic along the bottom showing Rouda with an ever-so-slight lead over Danyet.
–Matt Coker
Dispatch #17
11:15 p.m.
A pleasant woman around my age asks if I am with the Rouda campaign. Nope, I’m with a newspaper. That’s where the fellow journo says she recognizes me from, specifically the 1996 GOP convention in San Diego. Wow, I tell her, that’s a great memory considering it was 22 years, a head full of brown hair and a few dress sizes ago.
–Matt Coker
Dispatch #18

 

11:37 p.m.

The crowd loses its mind as CNN focuses on the Rouda-Rohrabacher race. The volume of the music is turned down and the tele noise is cranked in time to hear the on-air pundit say anti-Trump sentiment could make a casualty out of Rohrabacher.

–Matt Coker

There he is. Credit: Matt Coker

Dispatch #19

11:45 p.m.
It’s bonkers city as Rouda takes the stage flanked by his family. “Well, it’s been a long journey, hasn’t it?” he says to laughter. Rouda recalls when that journey began, with the election of Trump, and the boost that came with the women’s march shortly after. He then joked, “I am here to tell you as we are apt to do here that we don’t know who won yet. But we are up by 800 votes.”
Boisterous response.
“We are the people who believe in equal rights and women’s rights,” Rouda says. “We are the people who believe our diversity is what makes us great. We are the people who believe in campaign finance reform that is needed now more than ever.”
“YEAH!,” shouts a guy mere inches from my right ear.
Rouda continues, “We are the people who believe healthcare, Medicare and Social Security is a right for all. We are the people who believe in common sense solutions to gun violence. We are the people who believe in saving our environment and saving our planet while creating clean technology jobs. We are the people who believe our businesses and community come first.”
“YEAH. BUSINESS!,” shouts my ear hole filler as everyone breaks into chants of “I believe, I believe.”
Midnight
One of Rouda’s sons announces his dad is now up by 2,000 votes. And the crowd goes wild.
–Matt Coker
Dispatch #20

The award for best election party of the night goes to Disney labor unions. Even with Measure L holding on to the slimmest of leads, the atmosphere is festive at UFCW Local 324 in Buena Park.

Union members, Democrats and activists pose by a pro-living wage mural with fists in the air. “Sí, se puede” chants echo through the big union hall.

A small group of union leaders anxiously huddle around refreshed election results projected on the big screen. But many more workers are dancing cumbias.

Sure, if Anaheim voters pass Measure L, it may serve as a prelude to a big legal battle as to whether the minimum wage hikes apply to the Disneyland Resort.

But tonight, after a big fight against OC’s biggest employer, the union hall is the happiest place on earth.

–Gabriel San Roman
Dispatch #22
Time undetermined.
The race still too close to call, Rohrabacher comes downstairs to where the cameras are to tell his supporters that his opponent spent a lot more money than he did, lamenting the “billionaires” who influenced the race. He claimed that Rouda voters don’t share American ideals or Republican ideals. He got that half right.
12:37 a.m.
There is plenty of Skosh Monahan parking now. In the bar where hours earlier a chap was trying unsuccessfully to convince an ABC network reporter that he was a close friend of Dana—but would not give his name, thus no airtime for him—I find the same barfly now braying in his beer. Otherwise it is dead. Same upstairs. As Dana’s buddy Trump would say, sad.
Final thoughts:
When you yell from the center of Skosh Monahan’s, “White Russians on Dana,” make it clear you are suggesting a round go on a congressional tab and that you are not presenting a leading man opportunity in a new elderly gay gangbang video.
If Rohrabacher does lose this thing, the big question will be how did the president let it happen, and by president I mean Putin.
–Matt Coker

Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is Editor of OC Weekly. He is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (Nation Books 2006), which provided the basis for the 2014 Focus Features release starring Jeremy Renner and the L.A. Times-bestseller Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World, (Thomas Dunne 2009). He is also the author of The Weed Runners (2013) and Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood (2016).

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