This is not a trick question: If almost all of our county's supervisors have been conservative Republicans dating back to the Paleozoic Era, what difference does it make which conservative Republican fills any one of the five board slots?
I'm asking you, Chuck DeVore and Todd Spitzer. Both men--veteran, conservative, Orange County Republicans--this week announced an interest in winning the 2012 election for Third District supervisor.
I know these guys well enough to appreciate that they are talented, well-informed, personable and driven.
But both are also essentially reading from the same Republican Party playbook. For Orange County residents, will it make any difference which one takes the seat from retiring Supervisor Bill Campbell?
Perhaps even a better question is this for both men: Do you really, really want this job?
Both have unmet goals that won't likely be satisfied in a job that requires daily mixing with other supervisors and county staff who are often--and I'm trying to be polite here--incompetent morons.
For example, does anyone remember Jim Silva
's performance as supervisor? He needed his staff to write his remarks on notecards so that he knew something to say at board meetings. I recall Silva, a protégé of goofy Congressman Dana Rohrabacher
, reading his card to thank someone for brilliantly addressing the board. He then sat back in his plush leather chair with a satisfied smile and wondered why everyone was staring at him. The person he thanked hadn't spoken.
Spitzer, of all people, should appreciate this point. In his past life as a county supervisor before he won election to the state Assembly, he served with Silva on the board. Spitzer has not exactly shied away from dreaming of high public office--district attorney, attorney general, governor and, no kidding, president.
Not to be outdone, DeVore, also a former California assemblyman, enjoys challenging the communists in Beijing, likes talking about national economic policy and, in the last election, sought the Republican nomination to replace U.S. Senate Barbara Boxer.
I've read all the mainstream coverage this week about a potential DeVore-Spitzer race, but none mentioned what could be a huge campaign advantage for one of them. Spitzer has a whopping $1.2 million left over from his prior campaigns and is likely to get public-employee union support. DeVore, who is in debt from his Senate race
, can potentially draw on a national Republican fund-raising base and is more likely to gain support from energetic party activists.
Yet, Spitzer--who was fired as a prosecutor last year by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas
--may need an even bigger bankroll. During his previous stint on the board, he happily voted to give certain local government employees the most lucrative pay, perks and pensions on the planet. He wasn't concerned about letting these bureaucrats retire at the age of 50 with the ability to take home 90 percent or more of their top salary for the rest of their lives. The cost of this boneheaded move for the rest of us in OC is hundreds of millions of dollars.
Will Republican voter disgust on this point alone wreck Spitzer? We'll see. Jon Fleischman at the FlashReport broke news this week of an early poll that puts DeVore ahead of Spitzer in the race.
Yet Spitzer is arguably the best, most feisty public speaker in the county. And he's not without his own ammo, even if it's less explosive. Expect him to tie DeVore to the man he's already identified as a ruthless villain: Mike Schroeder, the wealthy, Santa Ana chiropractic-insurance king and the county's leading GOP operative who is buddies with Rackauckas (and Fleischman). Last year, the DA said that he'd rather forgo retirement than let an immature, gaffe-prone Spitzer take his office in 2014. Spitzer retaliated by describing Rackauckas as a dimwitted, corrupt Schroeder puppet.
In the Rackauckas-Schroeder-puppet game, you've got to laugh at how quickly Sheriff Sandra Hutchens put her stamp of approval on Spitzer's candidacy. Can't imagine the relationship between our DA and sheriff? Think Charlie Sheen and Chuck Lorre, but without the benders and goddesses. Spitzer's return to the political stage will widen that rift.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly