Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 6 p.m.
North Orange County state Assemblyman Van Tran announced thru the Register's Martin Wisckol today that he hopes to be the 2010 Republican challenger to OC's lone Democratic member of congress: Loretta Sanchez.
The news is as surprising as a six-hour traffic jam on the 55 or four-year-old, three-foot pot holes in Santa Ana.
Over the last 13 years, local Republican Party heavyweights, disturbed they lost a unanimous Republican congressional delegation in Washington, have made no secret of their efforts to groom Tran as the man who will correct this travesty. Indeed, they are hoping for a bit of irony: Tran was a staffer to Congressman Bob Dornan, Sanchez's first victim in 1996.
Outsiders are speculating that the 47th Congressional District (Santa Ana, Garden Grove and Anaheim) makes Tran a serious threat to Sanchez because of the growing political participation of Vietnamese Americans who have stunned the political scene (specifically the much larger Latino establishment) in recent years with surprising ballot-box muscle flexing.
And Tran, 44, is talking tough: He reading out of the DC GOP playbook that demonizes Nancy Pelosi and is calling himself the candidate who'd, unlike Sanchez, actually represent the district's interests.
But there's a couple of key points to remember:
1. Sanchez, 49, has worked tirelessly to establish her good reputation in Little Saigon.
2. Local Vietnamese voters have repeatedly rejected Vietnamese candidates when they believe a better non-Vietnamese candidate is running.
3. Challengers need massive amounts of money and Tran is likely not going to come close to raising more campaign funds that Sanchez, whose contributor base is not just national but considered endlessly enthusiastic.
4. I haven't seen any recent polling but I'm guessing that--at the moment, at least--Sanchez's conservative Democrat positions fit the working class district more than Tran's conservative Republican stances.
Yet, given OC Republican intense dislike of Sanchez, the race could develop into a bruising affair.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly