Outgoing state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, announced Wednesday he will run to replace Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel, who was recently elected to Congress.
Moorlach was a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors from 2006-15 when he was termed out. He then ran for state Senate and won a special election in 2015.
Moorlach narrowly lost his bid for re-election to UC Irvine law professor Dave Min, who won, 51.14%-48.86%.
“I got so much encouragement to do it and garnered support from the Lincoln Club, the New Majority,” Moorlach told City News Service.
On Monday, Moorlach will seek the endorsement of the Orange County Republican Party at its monthly meeting.
Republicans have been clearing the field for Moorlach so they don’t split the vote and help clear the field for a Democrat. Sources say Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley is the odds-on-favorite to run against Moorlach, making it a rematch of the state Senate race without Min as Foley fell short in the primary.
Foley did not immediately respond to a phone call for comment.
“It’s better one on one than to do it with a bunch of people and the Democrat wins,” Moorlach said.
Moorlach held out hope initially that he would be re-elected Nov. 3, but when it became clear Min would take his seat Moorlach turned his attention to the county board special election.
“It’s just sort of been organic, but it’s moving at its own clip,” Moorlach said. “It’s taken on a life of its own with the phone calls, emails, the text messages.
“They have all been so affirming. Of course, I’m going through the mourning. Losing was not my plan, but the number of people who have said, `Oh, you should be close to home…’ It has been so encouraging.”
Moorlach said the county faces tough fiscal issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he said he is ready to tackle them.
“I was there in 94-95 (for the county bankruptcy) and in 2008 (for the Great Recession), so you don’t have to train me,” Moorlach said. “Part of the encouragement for me to run has been coming from managers inside the county saying, `Please come back.’ ”
The timing of the special election depends on when Steel resigns. The Board of Supervisors will vote to hold a special election after Steel resigns.
Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said the “window” for a special election includes March 2 or March 9.
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