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O.C. Prepares for Tight Senate Race

GOP has edge in district where Democrats once did. Filing deadline shapes various contests.

March 11, 2006|Jean O. Pasco | Times Staff Writer

With the passing of Friday's filing deadline for November's elections, Orange County will play host to one of the state's few competitive legislative races. It starts with June primaries for a central county seat in the state Senate.

The 34th District is represented by Sen. Joe Dunn (D-Santa Ana), who is running for state controller. A Democratic edge among registered voters that helped elect Dunn in 1998 now slightly favors Republicans, making the seat attractive for Senate GOP leader Dick Ackerman of Irvine.

Conservatives have criticized Ackerman for endorsing Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher (R-Brea) to succeed Dunn. Daucher is an abortion-rights supporter who opposes new taxes but has supported construction bonds for schools -- stands that Ackerman argues make her more appealing in the politically split district.

Daucher will face immigration activist Lupe Moreno of Santa Ana, who is expected to get attention for her opposition to illegal immigration, much as Independent Jim Gilchrist did in his failed bid for Congress in last year's Orange County special election.

Assemblyman Van Tran (R-Garden Grove) was to have been Daucher's main opponent in the primary but decided to seek reelection instead. He will be challenged by Republican engineer Long K. Pham, who also ran for a seat in the Assembly in 2004.

The Democratic primary will feature a current and former member of the Assembly. Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata has given his nod to county Supervisor Lou Correa, which was bad news for Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Anaheim).

Insiders buzzed for months that the Senate leader wanted an alternative to Umberg, who proved vulnerable in a poll of likely voters conducted last year on the heels of his admission to a four-year extramarital affair. Umberg also still carries $1.4 million in debt from his 2002 race for state insurance commissioner.

Correa's decision to run stunned some Democrats who backed him in his 2004 county race because he had pledged to fulfill his four-year term. Last week, a north Orange County Democrat group sent Correa a letter saying its membership unanimously wanted him to withdraw from the race.

Umberg is supported by Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Dunn. Among other contested races finalized Friday:

* Sheriff Michael S. Carona will face three challengers in a bid for a third term -- Orange County Sheriff's Lt. William Hunt, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Cmdr. Ralph Martin and retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Robert G. Alcaraz.

* The Republican primary to succeed Assemblyman Tom Harman will feature termed-out county Supervisor Jim Silva, Cypress City Councilman Mike McGill and Harman's wife, Dianne.

* Santa Ana council members Claudia Alvarez and Jose Solorio will be joined by businessman Armando de la Libertad in the Democratic primary to succeed Umberg in the Assembly.

* Michael Duvall, a Yorba Linda councilman, and Marty Simonoff, Brea city councilman, are running for the GOP nomination to succeed Daucher in the Assembly.

* Asset manager Chriss Street will be challenged by deputy tax assessor Patrick Desmond to succeed Treasurer-Tax Collector John M.W. Moorlach, who is running for county supervisor.

* Three Orange County Board of Supervisors seats are up for grabs. Chris Norby, the only incumbent on the ballot, is facing La Habra City Councilwoman Rose Espinoza. Moorlach will square off against Stanton City Councilman David J. Sawver for Silva's seat. And four candidates will vie to succeed termed-out Supervisor Tom Wilson: former Assemblywoman Patricia Bates, Laguna Niguel City Councilwoman Cathryn DeYoung, former Laguna Niguel City Councilman Eddie Rose and educator Gary V. Miller.

* Assessor Webster J. Guillory will face retired county appraiser Larry Bales and Michael Lebeau, a local liaison with the state Board of Equalization.

* Democrats Christina Avalos and Florice Orea Hoffman will vie to oust incumbent Rep. Ed Royce, who is unopposed in the Republican primary.

* Republicans Rose Avila, a Santa Ana school board member, and businessman Tan Nguyen will compete in the primary to face Democratic incumbent Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

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