Orange County voters hit the polls yesterday to select Todd Spitzer’s replacement for the Third District of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Spitzer vacated the seat when he won the Orange County District Attorney race last November.
Lone Democratic candidate and former 10-term member of Congress Loretta Sanchez faced off against six Republican candidates in a “winner-take-all” election. OCGOP-endorsed candidate Don Wagner holds a 3,000 vote lead over Sanchez after the election night results were posted. That seems like a lock in a low-turnout election in a mostly Republican county; Sanchez would have to win > 60% of the remaining votes. BUT…
and this is a huge BUT…
Democrats dominated last November through a new but legal election tactic; ballot harvesting. Assemblyowman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D-SD) sponsored and passed legislation which allows mail voters to give their ballot to anyone rather than mailing the ballot in. Last November, early leads evaporated after the mail-in ballots, harvested by Democratic campaigns and “dropped” on Election Day, were counted.
If Loretta Sanchez wins this special election, Democrats are sitting on a “silver bullet” which could win them the last Congressional seat in San Diego County, flip the balance of power on the San Diego Board of Supervisors, win two more San Diego City Council races, elect a Democratic mayor of San Diego, and pick up their 6th out of 7 Assembly seats.
San Diego Republicans are woefully unprepared to combat this tactic. Nobody recognized it in the last election and Republican volunteers have been abandoning support for the local party for a decade. I pointed this out six years ago and soon after that when the County registration advnatage flipped. At the end of 2014, I offered a plan to reform the Republican Party of San Diego. RPSDC leadership rejected those reforms to double down on the strategy of direct mail .
The Republican Party of San Diego County has produced dismal results in the past decade. It’s highwater mark was the defeat of Jerry Sanders sales tax initiative in 2010. Since then, it lost the San Diego Mayor’s Office (and regained it in a special election), has no candidate for San Diego Mayor in 2020, handed Democrats a super majority on the City Council, lost two out of five Congressional seats, lost two out of seven Assembly seats. lost a County Supervisor seat, and lost and a number of municipal Mayor elections.
2020 San Diego Republican candidates need to watch the OC 3rd Supervisor special election results. If Sanchez substantially narrows this lead or wins the election, our candidates are going to have to reshift their focus from direct mail to heavily recruiting volunteer precinct captains.
RPSDC won’t give you the door-to-door volunteers you so desperately need. It alienated them when it ran Sherman and Consiglio off in 2008. Our local party is designing mail pieces and Democratic volunteers are collecting voters’ ballots before those mail pieces are even read. The game has changed and Republicans are getting outhustled. Watch the OC 3rd Supe election results— our future depends upon it.