Matthew Leslie

The 29th District’s “Aloha” Bob Huff will be termed out of the California State Senate this year. Three candidates have filed to run for the seat that serves Fullerton and other cities in Northeast O.C. and Southeast L.A. Republican 55th District Sate Assemblywoman and former Diamond Bar City Councilwoman Ling Ling Chang has filed papers. On the Democrat side two candidates intend to run for the open seat. Former Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang is one of them. Mr. Kang unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Congress, losing to John Campbell in 2012. The other is Fullerton’s Josh Newman.

Of the two Democrats, Josh Newman has the distinction of actually having lived in the district for some time, as opposed to opponent Sukhee Kang, who reportedly registered to vote in Fullerton just about a month before announcing his candidacy.

Mr. Kang’s website displays a list of Democratic Party endorsements longer than the distance between his former home in Irvine and our 29th District. One of these endorsements is by former Fullerton Mayor and former 65th State Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, who has chosen him over another Democrat who made Fullerton his home long before ever thinking about running for office here. Josh Newman, a veteran, runs an organization that assists “young veterans returning to the Orange County/Greater Los Angeles area in the pursuit of rewarding, career-oriented employment upon completion of their military service and return or relocation to Southern California”.

Sharon Quirk-Silva is also running for office again, trying to regain the 65th Assembly seat she lost to newcomer Young Kim in 2014. Her endorsement of a carpetbagging former Irvine mayor over a local Democrat demonstrates the influence major party political structures have on races for state and local offices. There was almost certainly never any possibility that a candidate running for a state office would endorse anyone not already anointed by the California Democratic Party. To do otherwise is to risk losing financial and organizational support from the state party—support that will be sorely needed in November.

It is lamentable that a candidate can be so shut out by his political party so early in an election cycle, by losing any chance of endorsements by local party political leaders before the race has even begun. The California Democratic Party itself issues endorsements to candidates months before voters have a chance to have their voices heard at the polls. It is no wonder that so many voters no longer identify with either dominate political party, choosing instead to designate themselves as Decline to State or seeking out third parties with more democratic political structures in place.