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.
Dispatches from the frontlines of Orange County’s local races…
And here we go. Anthony Pignataro, take it away!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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…
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
|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.
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.
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.
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).