Redistricting Dogfight Looms in O.C.

JUNE 15, 2011


The lines on the maps just released by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission could force a fierce dogfight for a new congressional district in Northern Orange County.  Assuming the map’s final contours remain much as that of the preliminary First Draft, this is a solid Republican seat. So the battle will be among GOP candidates. One potential candidate, incumbent Rep. Ed Royce of the current 40th District, reportedly will seek a new district to the southeast.

That means a possible race between Rep. Gary Miller, the incumbent congressman from the current 42nd District, and Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson. Miller told the Los Angeles Times that he and his staff still are reviewing the maps. I called his office for an update, but haven’t heard from him yet.

Allan Bartlett, a member of the Orange County Republican Party’s Central Committee, is predicting that Miller will run in this new district. That would mean Miller would have to establish some kind of residence in the Buena Park-La Habra-Fullerton-Yorba Linda area that makes up the proposed new district.

According to Miller’s Web site, “Mr. Miller currently resides in the city of Diamond Bar,” which is at the top of the current 42nd District:




But Diamond Bar would not even be near the new District, as currently proposed:



Nelson Challenge

Nelson won his supervisor’s seat last year when he beat Harry Sidhu, an Anaheim councilman who did not have his primary residence in the district. Nelson’s charge of “carpetbagger” range true with voters. In that race, Miller supported Sidhu.

Nelson told me he’s definitely running for the congressional seat. He made the decision after Assemblyman Chris Norby decided not to seek the seat. “I would never run against my good friend Chris Norby,” he said.

He charged that “Gary Miller is a scandal-ridden congressman.” According to Wikipedia, “In December 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that Miller had used ‘congressional muscle’ for ‘personal business matters’.” And, “In May 2010, the FOX affiliate MyFOXLA interviewed Miller over claims led by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) that he ‘directed millions of dollars in government money to non-profits headed by one of his campaign contributor[s], developer Jeffrey Burum’.”

“I grew up in Buena Park and was mayor of Fullerton,” Nelson said. “Now I’m a supervisor representing this area. Miller is from Diamond Bar and should stay there.”

Nelson also contrasted his policy views to those of Miller. Miller long has supported the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War. Nelson takes a Tea Party position opposing these wars and their great cost.

“It’s outrageous,” he charged. “Why are we paying for all this? Saddam’s gone.” He said he opposed the U.S. policy of “nation building,” in which the United States, instead of just vanquishing enemies, tries to establishing function democracies and civil societies. “I don’t think it’s possible,” he said.

Fullerton businessman and political activist Tony Bushala promised a strong campaign against Miller should he run in the Fullerton area. Bushala, a Fullerton native with strong family roots there, ran independent anti-carpetbagging campaigns against Sidhu last year; and against Linda Ackerman, an Irvine resident, when she ran against Norby in 2009. He also owns and edits the popular blog, Friends for Fullerton’s Future.

Carpetbagging Charges

“Gary Miller would be definitely carpetbagging,” Bushala told me. “He does live in Diamond Bar.” Bushala promised an independent campaign that would “hammer” Miller on the carpetbagging issue should Miller run in the new district.

Of course, other candidates than these two will run in the district, including other Republicans, Democrats and members of third parties.

Another unknown factor is how the new Top Two election method, imposed by Proposition 14 last year, will operate. According to Ballotpedia: “Proposition 14 requires that candidates run in a single primary open to all registered voters, with the top two vote-getters meeting in a runoff.”

Potentially, a Democrat could face a Republican in the runoff.

Or, two Republicans could face one another — possibly Nelson vs. Miller. That would be a real dogfight.











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