SD37 Watch: Wagner Campaign Goes In Heavy; OC Register Endorses Moorlach

Things have been busy in the 37th Senate District special election campaign…

Vote-by-mail ballots arrived in the homes of SD37 voters last week – 254,173 of them – and the mail hasn’t been far behind. I am an SD37 voter and have received three mail pieces thus far – two from the Don Wagner for State Senate campaign and a $30,000 pro-Wagner independent expenditure from the Alliance of Energy, Labor and Healthcare Invested in the Middle Class.

The Wagner pieces – here and here – propound the “conservative we can trust” theme, touting his endorsements by conservative leaders and organizations and comparing his record with rival John Moorlach‘s. The IE mailer (below) sounds a similar, but more business-oriented “trust” theme.

IE for Wagner 2-21IE for Wagner 2-21 b









As is the case with IE committees that are mailing in multiple races, it can be difficult to determine whose contribution is funding which mailers, since technically contributors cannot instruct the IE committee on which races to direct the dough.  This IE committee played in the 1st Supervisor District special election, and is also currently involved in the 17th Senate District special election in the Bay Area.  My best guess from the report is this mailer is being funded by the PHARMA independent expenditure committee.

Another IE committee, the California Homeowners Association, has reported $32,000 — here and here — for two anti-John Moorlach mailers. The Form 496s don’t note where the funding came from, but isn’t unusual for there to be a lag of a few days between CHA noticing the expenditure and noticing the source of funding.  One of the mailers was funded almost entirely by police unions: $2,500 from the Long Beach Police Officers Association Independent Expenditure Committee and $10,000 from the Riverside Sheriff’s Association Public Education Fund. A phone survey of SD37 voters was conducted on February 12; the questions were testing on various Moorlach political vulnerabilities. According to my sources, it was an IE poll – and one can be sure the results will shape anti-Moorlach IE mail landing in mail boxes for the next three-and-a-half weeks.

A Wagner campaign volunteer walked my neighborhood two weeks ago, and the Wagner campaign has been organizing precinct walks every weekend, plus a slew of fundraisers and other campaign events.  As far as I can tell, Wagner is the only candidate waging a full-dimension campaign on the ground, in the mail and on TV.

OC Register Endorsement of Moorlach
On Valentine’s Day weekend, the OC Register editorial page endorsed former Supervisor John Moorlach:

In the 37th state Senate District special election March 17, former Second District Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, Assemblyman Don Wagner and Naz Namazi look to replace Mimi Walters, now in Congress.

While each offers a strong resume, we find Mr. Moorlach possesses a track record as a knowledgeable truth teller willing to rock the boat on behalf of the taxpayer. Mr. Moorlach, therefore, has our endorsement to represent a district that includes Costa Mesa, Irvine, Newport Beach, Lake Forest, Laguna Woods, Tustin, Villa Park and sizeable portions of Anaheim, Huntington Beach and Orange.

You can read the rest of the endorsement editorial here.

Wagner Cable Ad Goes Up
The Wagner for Senate campaign began airing this cable ad this weekend:

It’s a comparison ad, with Wagner positioning himself as an effective conservative who can get results and casting Moorlach as a career politician who has voted to raises numerous fees.

Moorlach Ground Effort Rolling On A Squeaky Wheel
There’s been some buzz in political circles that former Villa Park Councilwoman Deborah Pauly is the on-site campaign manager (presumably unpaid) for Moorlach’s state Senate campaign. Pauly is one of the squeakiest wheels in OC politics, to put it mildly. last year, she actively opposed permanently legalizing in Villa Park the celebration of Independence Day with safe-and-sane fireworks, and collaborating with a coalition of NIMBY’s and environmentalists to defeat a residential development project in Orange. Somehow, she has tapped into some following among Tea Party activists.

Naz Namazi Radio Ad
Naz_NamaziA third candidate, Naz Namazi, is waging a quixotic campaign that so far consists primarily in attacking her opponents, primarily front-runner Don Wagner. last week, she paid for a radio ad that aired during the highly-rated afternoon drive-time John & Ken Show on KFI-AM. I haven’t heard it, but it apparently consisted of some particularly low-blows at Wagner. I don’t know how much one radio spot KFI during the John & Ken Show costs, but at the time it aired Namazi had only raised $3,000 (she’s up to $9,200 now).

I’ve never met Namazi (to my knowledge), but she is running a very strange campaign. Since she has no earthly chance of winning, so one would think she’d be trying to build some positive residual impression on voters in case she decided to run some other office. As it stands, Namazi didn’t pay for a candidate statement, didn’t choose a ballot title, buys a single radio ad and defines herself primarily in the negative against her opponents. Not the sort of effort that causes one to think, “She’s not going to win this time, but keep on eye on Naz Namazi – she’s a rising political star.”

Stay tuned – more to come…


  1. Dear Matthew Cunningham,

    Thank you for timely coverage of the SD37 race. I would like to bring to your attention that Naz Namazi is running a positive campaign. If you were to check her website, you will see that she defines herself in a positive manner. While Wagner and Moorlach are bureaucrats and members of the political establishment, Naz is the citizen candidate and the voice of the people. A vote for Naz, is a vote for honesty and integrity in government. She has creative and principled ideas about how to improve our legislative process and better represent the district.

    • Susan:

      Thank you for your comment. I have seen Naz’s website, and while she does say positive things about herself, it doesn’t go beyond general conservative bromides. Her political philosophy is indistinguishable from Wagner’s and Moorlach’s.

      Also, claiming Don Wagner and John Moorlach are “bureaucrats” is false. As for being members of the “political establishment” – so what? Wagner is an elected official, and Moorlach was an elected official for 20 years until just a few weeks ago. That is a meaningless charge. Are we to suppose that if all the “political establishment” members who are endorsing Wagner and Moorlach suddenly changed their minds and decided to support Namazi, that she would refuse their endorsements so as not to become part of the “political establishment”?

  2. Dear Matthew Cunningham,

    With regard to other candidates, she is calling them out on their inappropriate expenditures and conduct while in office for decades.

    With regard to funds, you make it sound as though there is an impropriety. Naz Namazi has been reporting all funds received. At the time of the radio ads, she had the necessary funds to pay for ads and had reported over $5,000 in contributions.

    We would appreciate if you would please check the facts with Naz Namazi in the future.

    Thank you,

  3. The Registers endorsement of John Moorlach seems to be right on the money. I live in Second supervisorial district and have watched Mr. Moorlach over the years as he is served as the county treasurer and then Second District Supervisor. Mr. Moorlach is a certified public accountant not an attorney. It’s my impression that many of the legislators currently in Sacramento are attorneys and brought with them all their special interests.
    The current legislators, past and present governors and special interest groups have caused the fiscal problems the California currently finds itself in. I think we need more bean counters like Mr. Moorlach, not attorneys with special interests, elected to California legislature in Sacramento We sorely need legislatures who will address these fiscal problems and get California back on a sound footing.
    If this doesn’t occur, were going to see more businesses and corporations as well as individual taxpayers moving out of the state leaving only those people on the dole, who for the most part don’t pay taxes.
    This is not unlike the city of Los Angeles, who over the years with their political correctness chased a lot of the taxpayers out of the city into other areas of Los Angeles and Orange County, consequently the city of Los Angeles struggles every year with its budget. This somewhat of miniscule example of what occurred in the city of Los Angeles, is currently occurring statewide in California.
    Unless we elect more people like Mr. Moorlach, we will see many more businesses and individuals moving to Nevada or Arizona. To get away from California’s astronomical high taxes.
    Harold Kincaid

  4. I’m confused, since this is a public forum, where does it say in the 1st Amendment that you can inhibit free speech?

    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

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