Federal campaign finance disclosure reports filed in late January for the Democratic Party race to replace Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Anaheim) show the most conservative candidate, Lou Correa, is stockpiling not only large contributions but is the favorite of Orange County’s power players.
The reports, which cover activity through December 31 and were filed at the Federal Election Commission in Washington, D.C., show Correa—a former state senator and assemblyman—carried forward the largest campaign cash on hand—$252,000—for the June 7 primary election.
Joe Dunn, also a former state senator, claimed $176,000 in the bank while Bao Nguyen, the mayor of Garden Grove, reported having slightly more than $43,000 in the battle to represent the heavily Democratic district, which includes Anaheim—Disneyland’s home, Garden Grove, Orange and Santa Ana.
But the numbers aren’t as interesting as the contributors who decided to support the candidates in the last three months of 2015.
For example, Nguyen—a comparative newcomer to electoral politics and a labor union official with a notable life story as an immigrant from Vietnam—collected contributions from a gay Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, Zeke Zeidler; private investigator Jeff LeTourneau, a force in the Orange County Democratic Party for decades; and Academy Award and Golden Golden winning songwriter Dean Pitchford
Dunn, a trial lawyer who as a senator took on Enron in 2001 when the Texas company manufactured an electricity crisis in this state to boost it revenues, won contributions from, not surprisingly, trial lawyers across the nation. That list includes politically-connected Newport Beach attorney Mark P. Robinson as well as Steven F. Wasserman, a New York lawyer who has worked with venture capitalist Carl Icahn.
For his part, Correa—who may be the most popular registered Democrat in Orange County Republican Party circles—took money from Edward Allred, owner of the Los Alamitos Race Track and a longtime funder of conservative Republicans; reclusive billionaire David Gelbaum; real estate developers Michael Harrah and Michael Ray; veteran lobbyists Roger Faubel and Pamela Sapetto; criminal defense lawyers Al Stokke and James Riddett; Congressman Alan Lowenthal; and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.
On January 30, members of the Democratic Party of Orange County were split on a potential endorsement, handing Correa 17 votes, Dunn 15 votes and Nguyen none.
A local blog backing Correa reported polling showed him with a substantial lead among voters in December.
Sanchez, who won the north Orange County congressional seat in an historic upset of Rep. Robert K. Dornan in 1996, is facing California Attorney General Kamala Harris in the Democratic Party contest to replace retiring U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.