Conventional wisdom is that Michelle Steel is the presumptive front runner in this year's campaign to replace outgoing Supervisor John Moorlach. Steel announced first, plucked down $100,000 of her own cash and has raised an additional $530,000. Plus her supporters include heavyweight political insiders including divorcing Orange County power couple Mike and Susan Schroeder, lobbyists Lyle Overby and Roger Faubel as well as ambulance and trash companies that rely on lucrative government contracts.
But state Assemblyman Allan Mansoor is determined to give GOP voters an option in the race and late this afternoon he's hosting a campaign kickoff event in Fountain Valley. Mansoor, a former Costa Mesa mayor, is comparatively the rebel Republican to Steel, who is buddies with knuckle-dragging Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. So far, he's reported raising $39,000 from real estate developers, conservative activists, a pawnshop association, Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and Poseidon Water, LLC.
In terms of political personalities, Steel is more the traditional establishment Republican while Mansoor is more Ted Cruz.
(Note: An astute, local political pal tells me I botched the comparison and that Mansoor is more Michele Bachmann than Cruz.)
One issue that may develop in the race among conservatives is that Steel personally helped Sukhee Kang, a liberal Democrat who served in Larry Agran's corrupt Irvine political machine, raise campaign funds in 2010.
The results of the race may also have collateral impact on the Orange County District Attorney's office, where rumors continue to percolate that Tony Rackauckas will win his fifth term this year, retire during the term and back Susan Schroeder, his chief of staff, as his interim replacement. If that plan is real, Schroeder would need three votes to take control of the DA's office until an election.
Steel would undoubtedly vote for her; Mansoor, a former sheriff's deputy, probably wouldn't.
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Others who've filed candidate papers in the race include Joe Carchio, Jim Moreno and Alan Schlar.
Mansoor's event, which is sponsored by Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer and Huntington Beach Mayor Matthew Harper, begins at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m. inside Fountain Bowl at 17100 Brookhurst Street. For more information, call 949-791-7741.