Tuesday is the deadline to cast ballots in the special election to fill the Second District seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors vacated when Michelle Steel was elected to the House of Representatives.
Unlike regular multi-candidate elections for the Board of Supervisors, where a majority is required to be elected, Tuesday’s winner will take a seat on the board regardless of how high his or her percentage of the votes is.
In a district where Republicans have a 38%-33.2% registration lead, party leaders are worried that with three candidates in the officially nonpartisan race, Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley, a Democrat, will prevail.
Foley said she felt good about her chances of winning.
“I hope I don’t have a blind spot,” she said. “But I feel we’ve had an overwhelming number of volunteers participate. Up to 750 volunteers. These are committed volunteers.”
Foley said she had a phone bank this past weekend with 180 volunteers.
“I’ve called thousands of voters myself so it feels good,” she said.
Ada Briceno, the chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, said she was “feeling optimistic” about Foley’s chances.
“Democrats are speaking with one voice,” she said. “I’ve never seen such enthusiasm in a campaign. I have loved working on this campaign to see the energy and excitement.”
Briceno said a Democrat hasn’t served in that district since 1894 and Foley “would be the first Democratic woman (in that seat). It would be such a great thing to win that race around International Women’s Day.”
The most prominent Republican in the race is former Supervisor and state Sen. John Moorlach, who fell ill to COVID-19 in the final stretch of the campaign. Moorlach said he tested negative Monday.
Moorlach said “last week it was nasty” as he battled coronavirus, but by the eve of the election he was “feeling better… I did a lot of chores this morning.”
Moorlach conducted a campaign event Monday night in Irvine.
Moorlach said his battle with COVID-19 has him even more motivated to “want to get people vaccinated fair and fast.”
Orange County Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker told City News Service Monday night that he thought “it’s going to be very close.”
“We’ve done everything we possibly can with a split field to consolidate support,” Whitaker said. “I believe a lot of Republicans from our surveys on the phone as we call voters follow the same pattern as November — they’re voting tomorrow. I think we’ll get the lion’s share of those for John and I believe we can win.
“But I think we would have won easily if (Fountain Valley Mayor) Michael Vo and (Newport Beach Councilman) Kevin Muldoon weren’t in the race.”
Republican leaders managed to persuade Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neil and Huntington Beach City Councilmen Erik Petersen and Mike Posey not to run.
Tax attorney Janet Rappaport, a Democrat, is also on the ballot.
Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said he expects turnout to reach about 25%. So far, turnout is about 19% with mail-in and early voting at vote centers, Kelley said.
Special elections usually average about 25% turnout, Kelley said. The last special election had about 27% turnout, he added.
There are 13 vote centers in the district available for the special election, Kelley said. Ballots must be dropped off at a vote center or be postmarked and dropped in the mail before polls close at 8 p.m.
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