Democracy In Action: How OC Voters Fared in the June 5 Primary Election

“Hello. Could you call in an airstrike about 10 inches to my left?” Courtesy of Dana Rohrabacher

Such a momentous little election. Usually a primary in a non-presidential year elicits less interest than a CHiPS marathon on MeTV. This year is different, since Il Douche in the White House is becoming increasingly unhinged and autocratic by the day (He’s above the law because he IS the fountainhead of the law, see?) and seems intent on unmaking a century of American progress, eroding our standing in the world and packing our government with super-villains. (Just in June 5’s news, Education secretary Betsy DeVoss announced that guns won’t be considered in the department’s study of school shootings—and let’s leave aircraft out of aviation-disasters studies, shall we?), while EPA director Scott Pruitt was shown to have taken time off from despoiling our skies and waterways to use his office to try to secure his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise.

Meanwhile, the legislative branch that should be holding the executive in check is doing anything but. Which brings us to our primary. The Democrats’ hope of flipping the House relies heavily on California, and those hopes threatened to be stymied by our curious open-primary system, in which the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, move on to the general election. The problem there is that in heavily partisan districts, it’s very possible the general ballot could wind up with a choice between two Republicans or two Democrats.

This isn’t sleepy time: The results of this election may set the die for whether Trump ever has to heed the Constitution and the rule of law, or if he gets to expand his golden reign.

This is why MSNBC’s Katy Tur was broadcasting beside the Huntington Beach Pier on June 5, and why CNN, The New York Times and others were scrutinizing our races. I don’t know whether FOX News was doing similar pieces; its broadcasters were busy enough lying about the Philadelphia Eagles. (FOX was caught fobbing off images of players’ pre-game praying as them taking a knee during the National Anthem.)

Writing late on election night, it’s still too early to call anything, but I can note that in the County Clerk-Recorder race Steve Rocco is inching up, from 18.1 percent to 18.4 percent That’s an inversion of the 81 percent incumbent Hugh Nguyen was showing, but it’s remarkable still.

Thanks to low-information voters, even a stick of rancid butter can usually draw about 11 percent of the vote. Rocco, however, gives the impression he has a rancid summer sausage lodged in his brain. And people should know this by now. In 2004, without campaigning at all, Rocco was elected with 54 percent of the vote to the Orange Unified School Board. For years afterward, meetings would grind to a halt while Rocco expounded upon his delusions about a cabal of government and business leaders (including Albertsons supermarkets, Kodak and the company that makes SmokeCraft sausage) who had conspired to frame him since the early 1980s for the theft of a roll of Super 8 film and a summer sausage, and, failing that, had tried to kill him and get him fired from jobs.

You can read about all this from his point of view in his intensely strange book, R.O.C.C.O. Behind the Orange Curtain. Rocco is to good, sound governance what that North County waterslide that impaled a kid on jagged fiberglass is to amusement parks.

Hello, this just in: It’s now 5:30 a.m. on June 6, and the doughty OC election officials have all the precincts counted. Steve Rocco got 21.5 percent of the vote, meaning there are some 65,683 of our fellow countians who likely don’t use their turn signals or eyes when they drive and eat pie with their fingers.

Nguyen, who has done a conscientious job for years, received 78.5 percent of the vote, but it still has to be galling for him that one out of every five voters preferred a man in a wool cap who looks as if he spends his days poking at anthills with a stick. Rocco is a strange cat; as far as I know, he was the only candidate on the ballot whose Wikipedia entry has a section titled “Ketchup theft and arrest.”

On this Wednesday morning, appears that fears of a partisan lockout on the November ballot have dwindled (though in the Senate race, Diane Feinstein will square off against fellow Dem Kevin de Leon). The governor’s race—which had threatened to be a standoff between Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa—will instead see Newsom facing Republican John Cox.

Democrats had worried about a Republican-Republican faceoff in the key congressional districts they hope to flip, but a Democrat landed solidly in second place in each. That’s not exactly the sweeping “blue tide” many of us hoped for (in the Central Valley, Trump waterboy Devin Nunes got twice the votes of his Democratic challenger), but it does set things up for November, when lazy-ass Democrats are more likely to rouse from their recliners and vote.

In the 45th, it’s looks to be incumbent Mimi Walters squaring off against Katie Porter. In District 39, it’s Young Kim vs. Gil Cisneros. In District 46, Lou Correa (our rare Democratic incumbent) will face Russell Lambert. And in the closely watched race for the District 48 seat, Dana Rohrabacher will likely face moderate Dem Harley Rouda, though his 73-vote lead over Hans Keirstead may evaporate. In either event, Rohrabacher’s 30 percent of the vote compared to Rouda and Kierstead’s 17 percent each wasn’t especially cheering.

I’m still rooting for Keirstead. He’s a neuroscientist, meaning he might actually notice a difference if Trump ever has a grand mal seizure during the State of the Union Address.

At least Dana had to campaign this year. He has never really had significant opposition before, though he keeps his campaign manager employed full-time even in non-election years. (Since his manager is his wife, it’s a magical way to transform political donations into household income!) He has claimed such vigilance is necessary in case some well-funded, wealthy Democrat—as he’ll now be facing—ever ran against his 30-year career of doing jack-shit and refusing to meet with his constituents.

In recent years, he has seemed more engaged in championing Vladimir Putin’s interests. His Russophilia is an odd thing, given how tight he once was with the Mujahideem, the extremists/future terrorists organized, trained and funded by the Reagan administration to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. Consistency is not necessarily Rohrabacher’s strong point, considering he first ran for Congress touting term limits and has now been super-glued to his seat for three decades.

Maybe we deserve him. It is a shame how few Americans vote, especially when the world is watching as our president teeters on the brink of nuclear war; trashes our treaties and alliances with our allies while embracing thugs and despots; lies virtually every time he opens his mouth; and, in the midst of volcanoes, hurricanes and global chaos, seems as monomaniacally obsessed with the Russia investigation as Rocco is with his summer sausage.

Trump wasn’t on the ballot, but the fragile future of our nation was. He is the anti-Christ—not in the Revelations sense, but in the sense of being utterly unChristlike, with his every impulse running counter to compassion, love and morality. He’s gotta go, and we need people in office who will help get him gone.

Given what’s at stake, it’s distressing how many of our fellow citizens act as if they’re not stakeholders. Friends complained to me of hearing crickets at their polling places, where they were the only person voting. That is not what democracy sounds like.

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