Tom Daly
Tom Daly

OC Young Democrats Reject Tom Daly's State Assembly Candidacy

At one point in modern Orange County history Anaheim's Tom Daly was considered the biggest rising star in the local Democratic Party.

That sentiment ended in 1996 with the stunning emergence of Loretta Sanchez, then an unknown character who toppled legendary, Republican Congressman Robert K. Dornan of Garden Grove.

While Sanchez has become an undeniable heavyweight in national Democratic Party politics, Daly--ironically once Sanchez's mentor--fell into relative obscurity.

That's not to suggest Daly's resume is blank. He served as Anaheim's mayor and is currently Orange County's clerk-recorder. But, among certain political insiders, he's gained a reputation for craving higher office but not having the passion to do the work to win competitive elections.

And there's also this: More than a few hardcore progressives believe Daly is a DINO: Democrat In Name Only. That speculation isn't just idle chatter. His career is loaded (fairly or not) with accusations of anti-union and anti-Latino activities. Along with Republican lobbyist Curt Pringle, he's presently backing Jordan Brandman in a race for the Anaheim City Council. In the past, Brandman--a onetime Orange County Business Council lobbyist--aligned himself with conservative, anti-gay marriage forces.

It also doesn't help that one of Daly's longtime pals is Republican John Lewis, a former Orange County state senator and current political consultant known for gutter tactics, backroom deals and a pronounced aversion to the truth. Lewis helped engineer the re-election of corrupt Sheriff Mike Carona before his FBI/IRS arrest and conviction. As clerk-recorder, Daly directed his own questionable activities, including taxpayer-funded, sweetheart deals for buddies.

Late last year, Daly--hailing himself as a seasoned politician--announced his campaign to replace outgoing 69th State Assemblyman Jose Solorio in November's election. reported that he held a Santa Ana fundraiser that was a "huge success" and the blog also posted his answers to a campaign questionnaire.

Among those not intimidated are Democratic primary opponents Julio Perez, an Anaheim labor activist, and Michele Martinez, a member of the Santa Ana City Council.

Who knows at this point how Daly will fare, but recent events aren't necessarily encouraging. Last week, the Orange County Young Democrats met and considered who to endorse in the central OC race. The group chose Perez.

Another big Democratic group, the Orange County Labor Federation, also endorsed Perez, who has the approval of ex-state Sen. Joe Dunn.

Martinez grabbed the backing of Solorio as well as Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido and a long list of progressive activists and elected officials.

People can debate the influence of any endorsement, but not that Daly has alienated a long, diverse list of his fellow Democrats and is now paying the consequences.

Perhaps certain local Republicans will come to his rescue.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly


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