Photo by Daniel C. TsangBruce Broadwater was at a Euclid Avenue mini-mall in late October, hoping to persuade his largely Vietnamese-American audience to make him mayor of Garden Grove again. His tactics? Warning the audience of the gravest threat facing their city: the rise of a "police state."
Hyperbole is common enough in political campaigns, but Broadwater's borders on the really bizarre. His evidence is a competing slate of three City Council candidates backed by the police. If they win, he told the Weekly, "everything"—by which he presumably means money rather than actual political power—"will go to the police." There would not be much "compassion for our fellow men" left over.
He might have added—but did not—that but for him and his running mates, the city of Garden Grove will disappear into the absolute darkness of fascism.
Hitting the police is an odd campaign tactic, even before Vietnamese-Americans, whose suspicion of the cops is fueled by a kind of racial profiling that has landed the city in court on at least one occasion. But it's odder still because Broadwater and his running mates in the campaign—lawyer Mark Rosen, a Democrat running as a council incumbent, and lawyer Van T. Tran, a former aide to Republican Congressman Robert K. Dornan—have delivered a very different message outside the Vietnamese-American community. In campaign literature, Broadwater says he "voted to fund the police department strategic plan," which added eight more police officers to what was already (in his words) one of "America's best police forces." Similarly, Rosen's leaflets tout him as a lawyer who has provided pro bono work to the Garden Grove Police Association and feature a photo of the candidate next to a police cruiser and the statement, "Public safety must remain a top priority." The leaflets do not list any police endorsements but say Rosen advocates hiring more cops.
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"It's a scare tactic," says Tony Flores of the police-state threat. A city council candidate and former city cop, Flores is endorsed by the police union and the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. And he is candid about Broadwater's dire warning. "It's B.S.," he says. "It's a smokescreen."
Though they have teamed up with Broadwater for the Nov. 7 run, Rosen and Tran found themselves on opposite sides of the nasty battle over Representative Loretta Sanchez's narrow 1996 victory over then-Congressman Dornan. In the weeks that followed Sanchez's upset, Tran's boss asserted without evidence that his rival had stolen the election with help from Nativo Lopez—Rosen's client at Hermandad Mexicana Nacional.
The Flores slate—which includes retired city police officer and council incumbent Bill Dalton and LAPD Sergeant George Brietigam—is unlikely to win. Like Broadwater and Rosen, Dalton has the power of incumbency on his side. But despite their law-enforcement affiliations, his trio trails Broadwater's slate badly in fund-raising. The latest campaign reports showed the Broadwater slate with more than $163,000, while the Flores slate had just more than $71,832, including a last-minute infusion of at least $35,000 from the police union.