UPDATE – November 30, 2018: Today’s vote tally update today has Harry Sidhu leading Ashleigh Aitken by 475 votes: 26,419 to 25,944.
Yesterday, Sidhu led Aitken by 484 votes: 26,389 to 25,905. In other words, Aitken only cut Sidhu’s lead by 9 votes.
Stick a fork in it – even the most die-hard Democrat activists have to acknowledge Harry Sidhu will be the next mayor of Anaheim.
[Original post published on November 21, 2018] Yesterday’s update (Nov. 20) by the OC Registrar of Voters cements a narrow victory by former Councilman Harry Sidhu in the hard-fought and expensive contest for mayor of Anaheim – edging out progressive Democrat attorney Ashleigh Aitken. 54.8% of Anaheim votes cast ballots in the mayoral election.
Sidhu led by 1,406 votes on Monday evening. While Aitken cut that dramatically to 892 votes with yesterday’s update, there aren’t enough votes left to count for her to win.
According to our sources, an increased number of counting stations enabled the ROV to complete counting Anaheim’s provisional ballots yesterday morning – and that is reflected in yesterday’s total. While there are still stragglers remaining (damaged ballots, etc.) the number is very small and insufficient to effect the outcome even if Aitken captured them all.
In other words, Sidhu is the winner by nearly 900 votes, or 1.2% of the vote.
Sidhu’s win is one of the few bright spots for Orange County in what was otherwise a dismal election. Sidhu assembled the traditionally successful Anaheim coalition of business, public safety, the building trade to appeal to Republican and center-right voters. Against this was arrayed Aitken’s left-wing coalition of Resort and government unions, the OC Democratic Party and progressive/SJW activists vertically integrated with Democratic candidates up and down the ballot.
The Orange County Employees Association spent $100,000 trying to divide the Republican vote, and with some success: the 8.8% received by Cynthia Ward, whose campaign couldn’t afford any mail, is almost entirely attributable to OCEA-funded mail to GOP voters attacking Sidhu and urging a vote for Ward.
By the same token, Aitken was not helped by the presence of another Democrat woman – former Anaheim Councilwoman Lorri Galloway – on the ballot. At one point in October, polling apparently showed Aitken trailing Galloway, prompting tens of thousands of dollars in attacks on Galloway by the Aitken campaign and union-funded independent expenditures.
While Sidhu’s victory is a big win for Republicans, the Republican Party of Orange County as an organization had little to do with it. 58% of OC GOP Central Committee members voted to endorse Sidhu. However, an endorsement was thwarted by a faction allied with donor Howard Ahmanson that viewed a victory by a progressive Democrat preferable to victory by a Republican they viewed as not conservative enough. It bears mentioning that OC GOP Chairman Fred Whitaker was a strong supporter of Sidhu and did everything in his power to elect him; Whitaker deserves a share of the credit for keeping the mayorship of OC’s largest city in GOP hands.
The same should be said of the Lincoln Club of Orange County, whose leadership disregarded protests from the same misguided quarters and went all in for Sidhu.
An Aitken win would have been hugely empowering to the radical Resort unions to whom she’d become attached at the hip, and a powerful boost to Democrat efforts to take control of Anaheim. Instead, Anaheim has a mayor who understands business and job creation and that expanding city services requires growing tax revenues; who will strive to make Anaheim welcoming to economic activity and put an end to the demonizing of the city’s leading job creators and taxpayers.
UPDATED (9:00 .m. on 11/26/18): There have been two more vote tally updates since this post was published.
On Wednesday’s update, another 1,610 mayoral ballots were counted and Aitken picked up 144 votes – cutting her deficit to 748 votes. These were likely provisional ballots that had been counted but did not make it into the Tuesday update.
Another 338 ballots were included in the Saturday, November 24 update. Aitken picked up a few more votes – 36 – and Sidhu’s lead was slightly diminished to 712 votes.
Aitken needs a very large cache of uncounted ballots to have any hope of overtaking Sidhu – and there simply aren’t enough uncounted ballots available, according to our sources.
UPDATED (2:14 p.m. on November 26): This relevant excerpt from OC ROV Beal Kelley’s November 25 e-mail to election observers provides a clearer picture of the Anaheim situation:
- During our post Thanksgiving ballot processing today we processed 12,227 ballots, most of which were provisional ballots.
- We added 894 provisional ballots and 362 VBMs in the 34th SD; 404 provisional ballots and 205 VBMs in the Board of Supervisors’ 4th District and 299 provisional ballots and 136 VBMs in the City of Anaheim.