About 50 liberal Orange County activists protested a Republican event here tonight for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, but rallied at the wrong location.
The error wasn't necessarily the activists' fault. The Walker event was scheduled for the private, Newport Beach offices of Orange County Republican Party chairman Scott Baugh. But things changed.
"No," Baugh said when asked if he or Walker saw any protesters during the 90-minute affair. "We moved the event to another location."
While the protesters chanted and waved placards outside of Baugh's empty offices, Walker enjoyed a friendly OC welcome about a mile away in the offices of Buck Johns, a longtime Republican Party donor.
"I'd say he got a warm, enthusiastic reception from about 65 people who were interested in his courageous fight in Wisconsin," Baugh told the Weekly after the event. "Gov. Walker is an inspiring, articulate man and we were happy to have him here. He reminds me of our own Jim Righeimer in Costa Mesa."
The loud groans you just heard are from union bosses in Wisconsin and California. Both Walker and Righeimer are loathed by public employee union officials for challenging union contracts as bloated. So far, Walker has been more aggressive. He's pushed to eliminate collective bargaining rights while Righeimer, a longtime union critic, has focused on privatization of government services. Union officials say both men are unfairly blaming government financial woes on public employees, a view rejected by onetime state Assemblyman Baugh because of skyrocketing government pensions.
"The government spending problem that both Scott and Jim are addressing isn't a Republican or Democratic problem," said Baugh. "It's a math problem."
Baugh also said Walker discussed his plans to defeat any future recall effort.
Righeimer, who is on vacation, said he wished he could have attended the Walker event.
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"He's impressive," said Righeimer, the likely number one target for defeat by California labor interests when he faces re-election.
According to Baugh, the event raised about $20,000 for the local GOP.
Walker is in Southern California to attend the Jan. 2 Rose Bowl football game pitting Wisconsin against Oregon.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly