“Why should I vote in this dumb election?” you may be asking yourself. It’s a primary for chrissakes; there’s not even one president in it. And there are more damn people running for governor than there are superheroes in Avengers, Infinitely Good Crumbling Riddance to the Damned Lot of You. (Spoiler Alert: You just read a spoiler.)
Seeing 27 candidates vying for just one office really forces you to pause and do some mental tallying: “Is that more people than I’ve slept with in my entire life?” Then you cry, and even fitful masturbation doesn’t help.
Keep on trying, though, while I’ll finish going through the ballot for you.
First off, I have to tell you, if I got really high and made up a bunch of names, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from the Bizarro World ones that are actually on the ballot: There’s a guy named Thomas Jefferson Cares, along with Hakan “Hawk” Mikado, Danny Thomas!, Marshall Tuck, Shubham Goel, Akinyemi Agbede (it’s by Eminee!), Tim Gildersleeve, Rash Bihari Ghosh, Shastina Sandman and Dana Rohrabacher.
Please, I don’t intend any disrespect to you candidates with awkward, preposterous names, which I’m sure mean something wonderful in your native culture. (In my culture, for example, “Jim Washburn” means “White Goober.”) I’m grateful you’re here and participating in our common history.
And for those of you on the fence about bothering to vote in this unsavory year, I have two things to say: Donald Trump. Steve Rocco.
Trump isn’t on the ballot, but the fragile future of our nation is. The guy is the anti-Christ, not in the Revelations sense, but in the sense of being utterly unChristlike, where his every impulse runs counter to compassion, love and morality. He’s gotta go, and we need people in office who will help get him gone.
Republican money never sleeps. There are no small races for them: Vector Control Board leads to City Council to County Office to State Assembly or Congress, where the real damage can be done. A friend ran for mayor of Irvine in the last election, and more than a million dollars of conservative outside money was poured into the election to oppose her, in quiet, pastoral Irvine! Because they see it as a stepping stone to state or federal office.
And there’s plenty of damage to be done just on the local level. Consider Steve Rocco, who is running for County Clerk-Recorder. Unlike Trump, you probably don’t know who he is, and that’s his secret weapon. In 2004, without campaigning at all, Rocco was elected with 54% of the vote to the Orange USD School Board. For years afterward, meetings would grind to a halt while Rocco would expound upon his delusions about a cabal of government and business leaders (including Albertson’s supermarkets, Kodak film and a sausagemaker) who had conspired to frame him in the early 1980s for the theft of a roll of Super 8 film and a summer sausage, and, failing that, had tried to kill him and get him fired from jobs.
You can read about all this from his point of view in his intensely strange book, R.O.C.C.O. Behind the Orange Curtain. That or you can vote for him, and see the Clerk-Recorder’s office re-tasked to search for his missing summer sausage (It was part of the conspiracy against him, you see, that the rotting meat product had vanished from the police evidence room after two years.)
I first met Rocco in the mid-1970s, when he was selling used records at the Orange Drive-In Swap Meet. Every ten records or so in his boxes, he’d have notices like, “I’m watching you!” “I know what you’re up to!” and “Don’t even try it!” He’s a strange cat. As far as I know, Rocco is the only candidate on the ballot whose Wikipedia entry has a section titled, “Ketchup theft and arrest.”
Let’s move on to some other names on the ballot, with my choices:
Governor: Gavin Newsom. I don’t mind Villaraigosa, either, but Newsom would keep California on a more progressive path, where we need to be both for the people who live here and as an example to the rest of the nation. (And Villariagosa’s talents may better serve us in Congress down the road.) If you need to vote for a qualified dark horse, try Delaine Eastin.
Lieutenant Governor: Ed Hernandez, just because. Chupacabra could be Lieutenant Governor and it wouldn’t affect your life any.
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla. When you’ve got an incumbent doing a great job, recognize it. He’s been doing well at swatting the gnatstorm of crazy sent our way by the Trump administration.
Controller: Betty T. Yee. Democrat. Incumbent. In four years hasn’t once lost track of Catalina Island or anything.
Treasurer: Fiona Ma. I support her just for her not using the slogan, “Trust Ma with Your Money.”
Attorney General: Xavier Becerra. He stands for the right stuff—healthcare for all, saving our fragile environment, etc.—and, like Padilla, he’s fighting to mitigate Trump’s mendacity. You might also give Dave Jones a look. He’s been an effective insurance commissioner.
Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara for Dave Jones’ old gig.
4th District, State Board of Equalization: Mike Schaefer, because he’ll turn up the bass, and because my friend Jean recommends him, and she actually keeps her eye on the minutiae of state and local politics.
US Senator: Dianne Feinstein. What, you don’t like old people? I could nit-pick several of Feinstein’s actions, but there’s a lot to be said for seniority and experience in making government work. State Sen. Kevin de Leon is the only one of her 31 opponents with any political juice, but he’s a showboat.
US Representative: Unless you live in the 48th District, you’re on your own here. For the 48th, that’s Dana’s Rohrabacher’s seat, and I’m going with Hans Keirstead to best him. He’s more of a progressive than the other leading Dem, Harley “Roto” Rouda, plus Keirstead’s a neuroscientist, meaning he might actually notice a difference if Trump ever has a grand mal seizure during the State of the Union Address.
I have friends voting for Scott Baugh, on the argument that only a Republican can unseat the horrid Rohrabacher in this solidly Republican district. I choose to hope otherwise, plus Baugh isn’t much of an improvement over Dana’s do-nothing, obstructionist record. Judging by Baugh’s commercials, his sole accomplishment has been getting people to watch him while he’s pointing at things.
Rohrabacher lives a few blocks from me, and if I ever followed through on my ideas, the ends of his block would have signs nailed up, showing motorists the Kremlin’s onion dome and the message, “Welcome to Little Moscow, Home of Dana Rohrabacher.”
The guy seems much more interested in championing Vladimir Putin than he does in representing his constituents, whom he won’t even meet with unless they’re rich supporters. His Russophilia is an odd thing, given how tight he once was with the Mujahideem, the extremists organized, trained and funded by the Reagan administration to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. Consistency is not necessarily Rohrabacher’s strong point, considering he first ran for Congress touting term limits, and has now been super-glued to his seat for 30 years.
State Assembly: I’m in the 74th District, and Cottie Petrie-Norris is getting my vote. I saw her speak in a friend’s backyard (I’m pretty sure she was invited there) and I was impressed.
Superior Court Judge: Theodore Howard, the incumbent.
School Superintendent: Tony Thurman, the Democratic endorsee.
County Board of Education: In Area 2, it’s Matt Nguyen.
OC Supervisor, 2nd District: Brendon Perkins, Democrat aerospace guy. Incumbent Michelle Steele always seems bummed that she has to go through the bother of being a supe while waiting to springboard to higher office. The other opponent, Michael Mahony, is a libertarian, which is a fine thing to be, if you live in a 17th-Century agrarian society.
County Assessor: Richard “Not the Nightstalker” Ramirez.
Clerk-Recorder: Repeat after me: Not Steve Rocco.
District Attorney: Brett Murdock. Tony Rackaukas is entrenched evil, while his strongest opponent, Todd Spitzer, is something of a whack job.
Sheriff-Coroner: Don Barnes. As the current Undersheriff, he already has the hat for the gig.
The Propositions: Yes on 68, 69 and 71. Fooey on the other two.