On March 8, the Chicano Latino Immigrant Democratic Club of OC hosted Daraka Larimore-Hall, a democratic socialist and candidate for chairman of the California Democratic Party. During the question-and-answer portion of the program, Anaheim Councilman Jose F. Moreno tossed this query at Larimore-Hall:
“My question is related, from my end, as a Central Committee of the Democratic Party here in Orange County. We just went through a conversation earlier where we actually censured two electeds for endorsing Republicans in races where there were Democrats. We do have races where you only have two Republicans – what do you do, right? But in this instance, they did that. The most we could do was censure. If someone on the local level had done that as a Central Committee, you get expelled.
So will you support an effort at the state level, that if an elected official, in the Democratic Party, endorses a Republican where there’s a Democrat race – that they and their vote will be lost on the Central Committee – they can be expelled from the local Central Committee.”
Moreno is referring to last November’s censure of Re. Lou Correa and Assemblyman Tom Daly for endorsing Undersheriff Don Barnes for Orange County Sheriff. Barnes’ opponent in the November run-off, Duke Nguyen, is a Democrat. The office of Sheriff-Coroner is non-partisan.
Moreno’s zeal to expel Correa and Daly is interesting, given his own record of supporting Republicans over Democrats.
In 2014, Moreno supported Republican Mayor Tom Tait for re-election, even though former Councilwoman Lorri Galloway – a Democrat – was also running for mayor. Moreno – who had only registered as a Democrat several weeks before the election – might plead that was OK because he was not a Democrat elected official.
Moreno was making his first run for Anaheim City Council that year – and it’s worth noting that Correa endorsed Moreno only two weeks after Moreno re-registered as a Democrat.
Last November, when Democrat Jordan Brandman – the endorsed Democratic Party of OC candidate – was running against Republican Councilman James Vanderbilt in District 2, Moreno supported Vanderbilt. Indeed, when Vanderbilt was trailing in initial returns, Moreno told the OC Register that he hoped his GOP council colleague would win:
“Moreno called the early returns in his race “promising” and said he hadn’t given up hope that Vanderbilt might eke out a win.”
Unlike in 2014, Moreno was a Democrat elected official while supporting a Republican over the officially-endorsed Democrat candidate. But, apparently, it’s different when he does it.
The political reality here – the context in which Moreno posed his question – is his possible left-wing primary challenge to Correa’s re-election. Correa is a moderate, center-Left Democrat – for which Moreno has long criticized him by labeling him a “corporatist.” Hence, Moreno’s social media hounding of Correa to support the disingenuously named, unworkable and impossibly expensive “Medicare-for-All.”
And for some reason, it’s permissible for Moreno to disregard party affiliation when endorsing candidates, but not for anyone not on his progressive-Left team.
Moreno is a fan of freshman Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar – left-wing firebrands who see themselves as the revolutionary vanguard engaged in transforming the Democratic Party into an “authentically” and unapologetically leftist party. They talk openly about supporting primary challengers against Democratic colleagues who aren’t far enough to the Left for their tastes.
Maybe Moreno sees himself as the man for that job in the 46th Congressional District. It would certainly make for an interesting race. CD46 is a strongly Democratic in terms of party registration, but it isn’t a progressive district. Correa faced strong progressive opponents in 2016, when CD46 was open, and he waxed them in the primary and the general election.