The final vote tally has been certified by Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley, and John Moorlach has been elected by just under 8 percent of registered voters to represent them in 37th State Senate. The seat was recently vacated by carpetbagger, or non-resident, Mimi Walters who has moved on to the United States House of Representatives where doesn’t have to live in the Congressional district in order to represent it. Few, if any, political pundits in Orange County expected Moorlach to win this election. Not many people in the GOP political establishment really like him, and most only tolerated him because he appeared to be no more than a political gadfly, still living in 1994.
When his bid for the congressional seat that Mimi Walters went on to win fizzled out due to lack of financial support, Moorlach announced that he was done with politics. His announcement, one year ago, was met with genuine suspicion. An ego as big as Moorlach’s cannot possibly survive political retirement and the loss of the constant spotlight he has enjoyed for 20 years.
That suspicion was justified; and his decision to run for Senate proved two political constants. 1) Never trust what a Republican politician tells you; and 2) Never underestimate the allure of an open seat to a termed-out politician.
Moorlach was vastly outspent by a curious coalition of GOP mainstream funders and labor unions. All Moorlach had was his superior name recognition, due to 20 years on the taxpayer payroll. This election proved that in a low turnout election, no amount of money can sway the perception of high information voters that the devil they know is a better choice than the devil they do not know as well. It also confirmed that no one should underestimate the ability of John Moorlach to pull something, including victory, out of his a$$. We can say Moorlach’s get out the vote effort was better than Don Wagner’s.
As stated in an earlier post, “Moorlach isn’t universally loved by his own party, let alone Democrats; he’ll be seated at the kid’s table and won’t get a lot of support from either party and he won’t have nearly the pull he had while a member of the BoS.” In fact, he will be more like Chicken Little than he ever was as County Treasurer and member of the Board of Supervisors. It is doubtful that anyone will listen to him. It’s been suggested Moorlach will create lots of food fights — if that’s so, he’ll be sent to the corner as punishment because he can threaten to withhold his needed votes for the Republican minority, but no one expects Morrlach to back a single Democratic initiative; the threat is hollow.
When you are one of five in a governing body, all you have to do to get your initiatives to move forward is find two people who will agree with you. That doesn’t happen in a State Senate of 40 members. Not only do you need to convince every member of your minority party to follow your lead, you must convince a significant number of majority party members to go along with your ideas as well. What’s the over/under on Moorlach getting a single piece of legislation passed?
Last week the Orange County Register quoted Moorlach regarding his opportunities as a junior State Senator from Orange County: “I have no illusions of grandeur,” said Moorlach, 59. “But I have 20 years of experience and I do have relationships. I’ve had a relationship with the governor since he was attorney general, and he understands my concerns. I look forward to working with him and to doing what I can to improve the state.”
About those relationships Moorlach claims… Two of the most significant of those will be two newly elected State Senators Janet Nguyen and Patricia Bates from Orange County who, based upon their “relationship” with Mr. Moorlach on the Board of Supervisors, chose to endorse his opponent Mr. Wagner. Even Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff endorsed Wagner. It’s clear that Moorlach will have no friends from Orange County in the Senate. And as for his “relationship” with the governor, well one of our readers said it best:
John Moorlach is 59 years old, he will likely be able to serve as an Orange County State Senator for about 14 years. At that point he will be in his mid 70’s and will be forced again by term limits to surrender his government funded paycheck.
Lucky for us he will serve those years in relative obscurity, occasionally quoted by the Orange County Register, with little attention or glow of a spotlight. He will be more than a pathetic caricature of Chicken Little. He’ll be Buzz Moorlach, a toy political space ranger and action figure, often heard from the shadows repeating his catchphrase, “To obscurity… and beyond!”