7 Orange County Midterm Races – Orange County Register

Ballots have been sent. Campaign spend and events are increasing. Even the President came to town.

National eyes are on several races in the Orange County House that could be the determining factor in which party controls Congress next year. Scandals have rocked city councils and questioned the future composition of these governing bodies. Voters are tasked with deciding a variety of ballot measures, more so than the two nationwide sportsbooks with ads permeating the airwaves.

With less than a month to go until Election Day, we know the choices voters face can be a little overwhelming. Here’s a look at seven races we’re watching this cycle and why they matter.


One of these closely watched home races is CA-45, where incumbent Republican Michelle Steel is battling Democrat Jay Chen for the seat.

Centered around Little Saigon, the redrawn C-shaped district includes Placentia and Fountain Valley in Orange County and extends to Cerritos in Los Angeles County.

It’s a contest that has underscored the complexities of race and China’s influence on local Vietnamese-American voters in the district — many of whom voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020 largely because of his anti-China rhetoric.

Michelle Steel (right) and her main 2022 challenger, Jay Chen, in the new 45th Ward race. (Archive photos by Paul Rodriguez and Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Michelle Steel (right) and her main 2022 challenger, Jay Chen, in the new 45th Ward race. (Archive photos by Paul Rodriguez and Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

MORE: Learn more about your candidates in our 2022 Voter Guide

“The most interesting thing about the district is the demographic composition. In most parts of the country, and even most parts of California, Asia-Pacific voters don’t get nearly the attention that other underrepresented groups get,” said Dan Schnur, a former campaign adviser who works on political issues at USC and UC Berkeley messages taught. “But this district was created specifically for that purpose, and what’s taking place here is a fascinating look at the divisions within these communities.”

In the primary, Steel, a Korean-American, accused Chen, a Tawainese-American, of making fun of her accent, which he has vehemently denied.

In this round, Steel has spent the last few days escalating allegations that Chen supports “Chinese Communist Party Confucius Institutes in our schools” – referring to Chinese-backed institutes that proponents say support Chinese language and Promote cultural programs but opponents claim they are fronts for more nefarious activities such as espionage. The allegation stems from a vote Chen cast in 2010 as a member of the school board.

(According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, there were only 18 such institutes in the US as of April.)

Meanwhile, Chen’s campaign recently accused his opponent of falling to a “new low” after voters received mailings showing him in a fake classroom holding a Communist Manifesto, with prominent Communist leaders adorning the walls.

“Putting aside their political differences, the two candidates speak about their backgrounds and experiences in fundamentally different ways. Redbaiting is certainly a very visible example of this. It seems like those differences permeate almost everything the two candidates talk about,” said Schnur.

In less than a month, the Cook Political Report won the race as a leaning Republican; Crystal Ball also went from a toss-up to a leaning Republican.

73 AD

It’s bound to happen in a new district year. The newly drawn 73rd Assembly District pitted two incumbents against each other this fall: Republican Steven Choi and Democrat Cottie Petrie-Norris.

Democrats are expected to have the advantage in the district that Irvine belongs to.

If re-elected, Choi said his top priority is “to bring down the cost of living for California’s families, especially when it comes to gas and energy prices.”

For Petrie-Norris, her top priorities are oversight and accountability in the use of taxpayers’ money and “creating economic growth and wealth by fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Democrat Cottie Petrie-Norris and Republican Steven Choi are two incumbents in the June 7, 2022 feature race for the 73rd Assembly District race in Orange County.
The candidates for the 73rd Assembly District are Democrat Cottie Petrie-Norris and Republican Steven Choi.

Supervisory Board Circle 5

It’s the race that could decide the party composition of Orange County’s board of directors.

Incumbent Katrina Foley, a Democrat, faces Republican Sen. Patricia Bates for the area, which includes Costa Mesa and Irvine to San Clemente.

Both women can point to a legacy of local political service.

Foley was the first directly elected mayor of Costa Mesa and served on a school board, the Costa Mesa City Council, and a local Planned Parenthood committee.

Bates was the first mayor of Laguna Niguel after it became a incorporated city. From 2007 to 2014 she was a member of the supervisory board and the state parliament.

Although the board elections are impartial, the two board incumbents not standing for election this year are both Republicans. The other two seats in November’s election (District 2 and District 4) are both runoffs with dueling Democrats.

From left: Pat Bates, Katrina Foley, Diane Harkey and Kevin Muldoon.
From left: Pat Bates and Katrina Foley, candidates for District 5 Orange County Supervisor seat.

Huntington Beach City Council

With 18 candidates vying for four seats this year, the composition of the Huntington Beach City Council has the potential to change this year – drastically.

Of the 18 — whose experiences range from a community college student, a retired police officer, business owners and former council members — none are incumbents. Barbara Delgleize, Mike Posey and Erik Peterson are fired while Kim Carr runs for Senate.

Huntington Beach is one of a few Orange County cities still holding a general election, meaning voters are selecting multiple candidates to represent the city on the podium rather than just picking one from their district.

But perhaps one of the most dramatic races in Surf City this year is the City Attorney Race.

Incumbent Michael Gates faces Scott Field, a former Huntington Beach assistant city attorney who resigned last year after filing an age discrimination lawsuit against Gates and Huntington Beach.

The election cycle was peppered with several court cases challenging Field’s ballot designation and the wording for an electoral measure that would give the city council the power to hire an outside attorney and waive the use of the city attorney.

Mission Viejo City Council

The Mission Viejo city council election should have been watched now, as it is the city’s first post-district election.

But it’s even more intriguing as all five seats on the City Council have been filled this year as the city of Saddleback Valley struggles over whether the sitting councilors have exceeded their podium tenure.

A judge ruled this summer that all five seats must be on the ballot, and later ordered three members to be removed from their seats. However, a state appeals court has blocked their deportation for the time being.

Incumbents were not deterred. They still run campaigns across the city, touting achievements and collecting endorsements.

Anaheim City Council

November’s election could be a tipping point that takes Anaheim in a new direction.

The post of mayor has been vacant since Harry Sidhu resigned in May, and four people are vying for the seat, including District 6 councilman Trevor O’Neil.

The council will definitely get two new members as O’Neil runs for mayor and District 3 councilman Jose Moreno is fired; There are two-person races for each of these seats.

In District 2, Councilwoman Gloria Ma’ae (appointed last year to fill a vacancy) faces a challenger in her campaign. And if District 4 City Councilor Avelino Valencia wins a runoff for a seat in the State Assembly, the council must replace him in 2023.

The big question is who will claim more victories in November: the business interests that have typically dominated election spending and have often propelled their elected candidates into office, or the enthusiastic residents eager to clean the house after the last mayor went under a cloud.

Coordination measures for development

Electoral action in two Orange County cities engaged voters on various aspects of development and the impact on communities.

In Costa Mesa, voters face Measure K, put in place by the city council in hopes of reversing a near-standstill in new housing development and other projects.

Due to a 2016 citizens’ initiative, most projects in Costa Mesa that require a zoning change and meet size or density thresholds must go through a public vote. Only one project has reached this point, but a public vote has yet to be scheduled.

Proponents of Measure K claim that it maintains the status quo in residential areas while relaxing the requirement for voting on projects along major corridors and in industrial areas. But opponents firmly believe this would deprive residents of their right to vote, giving them a real say in future changes in their city.

About 10 miles south, in Laguna Beach, Measure Q supporters want to trigger public votes on major development projects along major thoroughfares: Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Road.

Proponents say the initiative would better protect Laguna Beach’s unique look and character by giving residents more leverage over major developments, which they say are causing more traffic and congestion.

However, opponents claim that Measure Q is superfluous over already effective rules and safeguards, including an approval process with multiple opportunities for public input. They fear the measure could have unintended consequences for smaller companies or projects.

Authors Alicia Robinson, Tess Sheets, and Erika Ritchie contributed to this report.

https://www.ocregister.com/2022/10/16/7-midterm-races-to-watch-in-orange-county/ 7 Orange County Midterm Races – Orange County Register

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