Orange County Republicans Endorse Different Candidates for Supervisor Seat 

February 2, 2021 Updated: February 3, 2021

Orange County Republican leaders are divided on their endorsements of candidates vying for a position with the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

The District 2 seat became available after former supervisor Michelle Steel was sworn into U.S. Congress in January. A special election on March 9 will determine her replacement.

The Orange County Republican Party endorsed former state senator John Moorlach for the role last December, but he’s not the only conservative on the ballot. Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Muldoon and Fountain Valley Mayor Michael Vo are also in the running.

This is concerning for the OC GOP, which has said that if three Republican candidates split the vote, it could cost Republicans the election. Divided support could instead benefit Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley, a Democrat candidate, the GOP said.

In recent announcements last week, Supervisors Don Wagner and Andrew Do endorsed Muldoon, giving the candidate the majority of endorsements on the board. Do also endorsed Vo for the seat.

“I’ve known Kevin for an awfully long time, and I really do believe that he is the best opportunity Republicans have to hold the seat, and I think he would be a fantastic member of the board of supervisors,” Wagner told The Epoch Times.

Wagner said that while he has great respect for Moorlach, the former senator is coming off of a “tough loss,” and he said Moorlach would have a hard time winning the seat.

“There certainly is that concern [of vote splitting], and that’s the argument [the OC GOP] makes, but the fact of the matter is that if you don’t think John can win, and you want a Republican to hold the seat, really pretty much your only choice at this point is Kevin,” Wagner said.

Wagner said he believes the Republican Party endorsed Moorlach too early for a number of reasons, including that he was backed before the field of candidates was fully known.

A range of endorsements for Republican candidates isn’t necessarily a bad thing, he added.

“I think what it says is that folks in the Republican Party genuinely believe that there are a number of good candidates available for these seats. It is a strength of the party,” Wagner said. “The Democrats, they push everybody out and they all focused on Katrina [Foley], and kind of just anointed her.”

Mail-in voting for the special election begins Feb. 8.

If a Republican wins the election, the board would continue to have a 4–1 majority against Democrats, although the board is nonpartisan.

District 5 Supervisor Lisa Bartlett followed traditional party lines and endorsed Moorlach. Meanwhile, District 4 Supervisor and lone Democrat Doug Chaffee endorsed Foley.

Just one other registered Democrat, Corona del Mar attorney Janet Rappaport, is running in the race.

As well as the Orange County GOP and Bartlett, Moorlach is endorsed by a number of big names, including The Lincoln Club of Orange County, The New Majority Orange County, Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector Shari Freidenrich, a number of city council members, and more.

Muldoon is also endorsed by Assemblywoman Laurie Davies, Former Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, former Supervisor Jim Silva, former Assemblyman Travis Allen, and more.

Foley is endorsed by the Democratic Party of Orange County, the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association, the Orange County Labor Federation, various Democratic elected officials, and more.

Vo’s endorsements come from a number of former mayors, former school board members, and Stanton councilmember Carol Warren.

Rappaport has no known endorsements.

Follow Drew on Twitter: @DrewVanVoorhis