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But Mike McGill, a CRA official, said he was disgusted that Hegyi was allowed to vote in the Tran-Pham contest.
“This is the worst case of political carpetbagging I’ve ever heard of,” McGill said. “He’s a Sacramento politician who flies 500 miles down to vote in an Orange County election. Wow. It doesn’t look right.”
Whitacre, who doesn’t think Pham is socially conservative enough for CRA-OC tastes and openly supports Tran, said the group’s bylaws allow a member to join “any branch he wants to join, regardless of where he lives.”
“The only thing that’s prohibited is that [Hegyi] can’t be a member of two of our groups at the same time,” said Whitacre, who described the flap as “just sour grapes.”
According to Whitacre, Tran would have won the endorsement even if Hegyi had been blocked from voting.
McGill said he isn’t an expert on CRA bylaws but thinks Hegyi’s vote “looks like insider, backroom politics at its worst.”
“If it’s legal [in CRA bylaws], it certainly does nothing but weaken our credibility as an organization,” he said.
Pham said Tran had grabbed the endorsement after he’d “clandestinely stacked the vote,” and he called on CRA officials to “void” the outcome.
Neither Tran nor Hegyi has returned calls seeking comment for this story.
In other convention news, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens—who refused to fill out the group’s questionnaire—didn’t show up, leaving former sheriff’s lieutenant Bill Hunt to debate Anaheim’s deputy police chief, Craig Hunter. Hunt dominated the vote, besting Hunter 56-36—five votes shy of getting the endorsement. (Hutchens received none.)
Other candidates who won endorsement were Harry Sidhu over Sean Nelson for the 4th District supervisor’s seat, Allan Mansoor over Long Pham in the 68th Assembly District, and Dan Wagner over Steven Choi and Jerry Amante for the 70th Assembly District. Numerous candidates—including John Moorlach, Tony Rackauckas, Dana Rohrabacher and Ed Royce—had no competition at the event and also won the group’s support.
CRA member Allan Bartlett gave Irvine Congressman John Campbell a scare by yanking his name from the automatic endorsement rankings. Bartlett addressed the crowd holding a Ron Paul-signed U.S. Constitution booklet and argued that Campbell had violated the nation’s founding documents by voting for the federal bailout of Wall Street banks. The move came within one vote of blocking the group’s endorsement of the congressman.
“I’m pretty happy,” said Bartlett afterward. “I think I made my point.”
The bulk of this article appeared previously on the Weekly’s Navel Gazing blog.This column appeared in print as "The Hometown Favorite? Some OC conservative activists are grumbling about the way Van Tran secured their group’s approval."