Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley Wednesday began preparing to take the Second District seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors after winning a special election to fill vacancy caused by Michelle Steel’s election to the House of Representatives.
“I have already hit the ground running and been in meetings on Zoom throughout the day trying to get downloaded on different issues that relate to the county and pull together a team for our office in between the hundreds of text messages that are coming in,” Foley told City News Service.
Foley received 43.72% of the vote in the nonpartisan five-candidate race Tuesday, according to unofficial results released by the Orange County Registrar of Voters. Former state Sen. and Supervisor John Moorlach was second with 31.44%.
“I credit our win to voters who overwhelmingly dismissed the platform of my opponent,” Foley said.
Newport Beach City Councilman Kevin Muldoon was third 11.48%, followed by Fountain Valley Mayor Michael Vo, fourth with 9.03%. Tax attorney Janet Rappaport, a Democrat, was fifth with 4.34%.
Unlike regular multi-candidate elections for the Board of Supervisors, where a majority is required to be elected, the candidate finishing first Tuesday was assured of a seat on the board regardless of his or her percentage of the vote.
Turnout was 26.5%.
In a district where Republicans have a 38%-33.2% registration lead, party leaders had been worried that with three Republicans in the race, Foley could prevail.
Orange County Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker called Muldoon and Vo “spoilers.”.
“Tuesday night Republicans took a majority of the vote in the special election for Orange County supervisor,” Whitaker said in a statement.
“Sadly, that majority was needlessly split between the endorsed Republican candidate and two Republicans who entered the race despite our warnings that they would play spoilers and put this Republican seat at risk.”
Foley, Whitaker noted, will have to run for another term in 2022.
“We will make Katrina Foley a one-term supervisor,” Whitaker said.
Muldoon told City News Service he is unsure if he would run again next year.
“I don’t know what I’ll do next,” he said.
Muldoon rejected Whitaker’s assertion that he played spoiler.
“There’s no way John Moorlach was going to win this race,” Muldoon said. “I did my own poll. Foley was more popular than he was.”
Muldoon said voters were put off by allegations that Moorlach brushed aside the claims from an aide who alleged that former Assemblyman Bill Brough raped her. Moorlach has insisted he knew nothing about the allegations.
“Had Vo and Muldoon not been in the equation I would have beat her,” Moorlach said. “They’ve kind of become turncoats, aiding and abetting the Democratic Party.”
Moorlach blamed “strong union forces” for encouraging the two Republicans to remain in the race to stop Moorlach, who has made enemies with various police unions with his calls for reforming of public employee pensions.
Moorlach said he has retired from politics.
“I’ve had a ball,” he said of his career. “I’ve had a great run. This is the first day in 27 years I’ve been free. It’s nice to think about cleaning up the house, organizing things, getting chores around here done. I’ve put stuff off for so long.
“I’m also getting interesting offers in the private sector, writing editorials by a significant publication. But I just want to take a breather and, OK, let me just think about it.”
The loss was Moorlach’s second in five months. He lost a bid for a second full term in the state Senate in November, losing to Democrat Dave Min, 51.1%-48.9%.
Foley had also sought the 37th Senate District seat, but finished last in the three-candidate field in the March primary.
During her campaign, Foley promised that if elected, her priorities as supervisor would be:
— COVID-19 relief and expanding affordable health care;
— homelessness and affordable housing;
— protecting the environment;
— education and job training;
— equality and justice; and
— securing safe communities.
The victory makes Foley the first Democrat to represent the district since 1894 and the first female Democrat. She called her victory “a historic moment for Orange County.”
The district consists of Costa Mesa, Cypress, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, Stanton, the unincorporated area of Rossmoor and portions of Buena Park and Fountain Valley.
Foley will be the second Democrat on the current board, joining Fourth District Supervisor Doug Chaffee.
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