The very stable geniuses at the Orange Juice blog are taking their track record of success in recall elections and city council races (that’s sarcasm folks) to attempt to recall Democratic Anaheim District 2 council member Jordan Brandman. This is fresh off their failure to recall Republican Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu, blaming COVID19 for their inability to gather enough signatures. So they set their sights lower.
The last successful recall of a Democratic public official in OC was Senator Josh Newman (SD29) who was recalled midway through his first term over his vote on a tax bill. Team OJ didn’t launch much of a defense and the DPOC’s Jeff LeTourneau was the star of a viral video that the GOP used to bankroll that successful signature gathering effort. Newman did reclaim his seat last fall. Santa Ana Republican Ceci Iglesias was recalled in 2020 and then, unsuccessfully, ran for Mayor.
Barely three months on the job, there’s chatter about a possible recall of Huntington Beach mayor pro-tem Tito Ortiz, who got the greatest number of votes for city council last fall. While his politics are horrible, recalling him probably won’t work and just cost the city significant money — one estimate being $700,000.
In November 2019, a few members of Democrats of Greater Irvine served recall papers on Mayor Christina Shea and Vice Mayor Mike Carroll, then COVID hit. Because the majority of the club wasn’t enthusiastic about that recall, the effort died and Shea lost her bid for election while Carroll won. A special election would have cost in excess of $900,000.
Tustin voters tried to recall then Mayor Jerry Amante about 10 years ago; nearly 6,000 of 7,000 signatures needed were gathered but delays by the Tustin City Clerk put off signature gathering for several weeks and organizers were going to host a booth at the popular Tustin chili cookoff where they would have easier gotten the needed signatures. No one wanted to give Amante an enemies list so the files were trashed.
There was the Fullerton city council recall of three Republican council members in 2012 bankrolled by blogger Tony Bushala that had actual funding behind it and legitimate community outrage over the beating death of Kelly Thomas. Bushala is now focused on recalling councilmember Amhad Zahra for the council member’s vote to permit marijuana dispensaries in Fullerton and a 2020 arrest.
There’s no way the DPOC is going to stand by efforts to recall two duly-elected and party-endorsed electeds; once the special election for the BoS is over in March, I suspect the Party will turn their attention to knocking both these efforts down. None of the reasons for Brandman’s recall campaign or Zahra’s recall campaign rise to the level where they should be removed.
The Sidhu recall failed due to formatting errors and a decided lack of signatures, largely because Vern Nelson is unable to get more than a handful of people willing to spend hours to collect signatures. Matt Cunningham’s Anaheim Independent has more details here.
OJ publisher Vern Nelson offered several reasons for the effort to recall Brandman, but he left out the main reason why. Brandman doesn’t give the clowns the time of day. There is no way the DPOC is going to get behind recalling any elected Democratic Party member public official unless there was a serious infraction of the law. There’s no way they will support an effort by blogger with his driving record/#MeToo reputation (OC Weekly’s R. Scott Moxley once referred to Nelson as a “wine connoisseur”) or his managing editor who’s been removed from the local party’s leadership team once, local party central committee membership once, and state party delegate status twice (after telling people not to vote for DPOC-endorsed Brandman) – especially when both regularly lit candles at the alter of a conservative Republican elected who might give them the time of day. Of the two, only Nelson lives in Anaheim but not in District 2 and Greg Diamond resides in Brea. Nelson talks of former councilmember James Vanderbilt running for the seat he lost to Brandman in 2018 if the recall is successful – yet another conservative Republican getting their approval over a Democrat from these “progressives.”
Should they manage to get a recall on the ballot, the special election will cost Anaheim taxpayers significant dollars (estimates range from $500,000 to $1 million) at a time when city tax revenues have been crushed by the closure of Disneyland and paid attendance at Angels and Ducks games. Neither Nelson or Diamond have been effective in electing candidates to the Anaheim city council period. If both are sincere in wanting to help Anaheim residents, now is not the time to hit the city’s budget with an unnecessary expense of a recall over a councilmember they don’t like.
The elephant in the room is a question; what does Jose Moreno think?
Moreno is the senior Democrat on the city council yet seems unable to build any sort of bridge to the other two Democrats on the council; in Anaheim, you need four votes to do anything. Moreno’s vote usually stands alone and he actively campaigned for Batiste for council because there was no party-endorsed candidate.
If the rumor mill is true and Supervisor Doug Chaffee doesn’t run for re-election, sources tell me Chaffee staffer and Moreno ally Al Jabbar has already put the bug in the good doctor’s ear to run for County Supervisor.
Moreno would be termed out from the city council and doesn’t have the war chest to challenge Assembly member Tom Daly or Congressman Lou Correa in a primary. And Moreno would need the endorsement of both to make a credible run for the BoS assuming a more moderate Democrat doesn’t run. Should Moreno lend any sort of support to a Brandman recall, he’d be cutting his own throat. CA-46 and AD-69 are Democratic districts but not far left progressive districts – and the fourth district supervisor’s area is even more to the right. Plus, besides Brandman, Team OC hates both Correa and Daly — two men you routinely win big on election night no matter how much Vern and Greg gnash their teeth.
So, Nelson and Diamond would be sacrificing Moreno’s political future by targeting Brandman in an effort – if the past is a clue – won’t succeed.