3rd Supervisor District Special Election: Thorburn Drops Out; Murray, Wagner Raising Money

3rd District Supervisor Todd Spitzer will step down from the Board and be sworn in as Orange County District Attorney next week, creating a vacancy to be filled by a special election on either this March 5 or 12 (the Board of Supervisors will make that decision at their January 8 meeting). Since it is a special election, there will be no run-off: top vote getter wins.

We’re four days into the New Year and the campaigning is already in full, turbulent swing.

Thorburn Withdraws, Endorses Sanchez
The biggest news is the decision by progressive Democrat Andy Thorburn to withdraw and endorse former Rep. Loretta Sanchez.  Thorburn ran for the 39th Congressional District seat last year, but failed to make it to the November run-off. The wealthy businessman and Villa Park resident had pledged to spend at least $1 million of his own money and garnered endorsements from a range of progressive organizations and politicians. Among those was Anaheim Councilman Jose F. Moreno, who has been a long-time critic of Sanchez over her moderation and insufficient militancy on immigration issues.

In a Facebook statement posted on December 29, Thorburn cited the possibility of he and Sanchez splitting Democrats to the benefit of one of the Republican candidates:

I am announcing my withdrawal from the special election campaign for Orange County Supervisor. I got into this race to address Orange County’s serious problems, from housing and homeless services, to public safety, to transportation, to healthcare – and I still care deeply about these issues. However, I believe that it is essential we have a Democrat on the Board of Supervisors who will fight for these priorities, and that if Loretta Sanchez and myself both run for this office, the likelihood is that neither of us will win and a Republican will prevail. Most importantly, I’d like to thank all those who joined our campaign – from Orange County’s firefighters to working people to Senator Tom Umberg to Ada Briceno to Dr. Jose Moreno, along with countless others. Your encouragement and unyielding support has meant the world to me. I intend to remain active and civically involved, fighting for the issues that our community cares about, and I wish Loretta Sanchez the best of luck.

Thus far, the only announced Republican candidates are former Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray and Irvine Mayor Don Wagner. Orange Mayor Mark Murphy is pondering a run, as is Yorba Linda Councilwoman Peggy Huang.

Thorburn’s exit is a boon to Sanchez, leaving her the only Democrat in the race.  The 3rd Supervisor District’s voter population is 35.4% Republican, 31.3% Democrat and 29.2% No Party Preference.  If the Republican candidate field is big enough, and the race partisanized enough, Sanchez could win with a plurality if she remains the only Democrat on the ballot.

The OC Democratic Party is pleased with Thorburn’s decision. “Andy Thorburn has demonstrated genuine Democratic leadership,” said DPOC Chair Fran Sdao. “His decision truly serves the greater good and unites Democrats at a critical juncture.”

Murray, Wagner Pass $100K Fundraising Mark
The campaigns of both Wagner and Murray issued statements announced fundraising above the $100,000 threshold.

The Wagner campaign stated it had raised more than $100,000 since the Irvine Mayor announced his candidacy on December 19 – a “sum [that] includes contributions from donors and a personal loan.”

Murray’s campaign sent out an e-mail stating the former Anaheim Councilwoman had raised more than $100,000 “from a broad coalition of business, labor, and community members” and noted her endorsements from former Rep. Mimi Walters, the California Womens Leadership Association, and the OC Business Council BIZPAC.

Consulting Team Rundown
Who is running the candidate campaigns?

The general consultants for Wagner’s campaign Duane Dicharia and Stephen Puetz of Axiom Strategies, while Anne Hyde Dunsmore of Capital Campaigns is directing fundraising.

Murray’s general consultant is Matt Rexroad of Meridian Pacific, with Jeff Corless and Alex Avetoom of Venture Strategic running her ground game. Corless ran the successful 5th Supervisor District campaign of then Dana Point Councilwoman Lisa Bartlett in 2014. Cynthia Quimby is running Murray’s fundraising.

We’ll update the post with Sanchez’s consulting team when that information is in hand.

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