Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen represents the First District, which includes the Cities of Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Westminster, and Midway City. She is coming up for re-election in 2012.
Nguyen worked for a slew of Republican politicians before she became an elected official herself, including now retired Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, William G. Steiner, and retired Chairwoman Cynthia P. Coad. She also worked for then Assemblyman Ken Maddox, who now calls himself Ken Maddox-Lopez. He has since distanced himself from Nguyen.
Nguyen served as Chairman of the O.C. Board of Supervisors in 2010. She recently passed the gavel to Supervisor Bill Campbell, who is going to term out in 2012.
Now that Nguyen is no longer the Chairman of the Board, I think she is going to have a harder time trying to change the boundaries of her district, ostensibly to remove Latino voters and add more Vietnamese voters – but even if she does succeed in doing so, the other Supervisors are not likely to allow her to gerrymander the district.
Nguyen most likely will face several competitors, including, I believe, at least one member of the Santa Ana City Council – and it won’t be Councilman Carlos Bustamante, who she defeated in Feb., 2007. Bustamante will presumably be running for re-election to a third term on the Santa Ana City Council. He works for the County of Orange and will most likely be an ardent supporter of Nguyen.
Janet Nguyen beat Trung Nguyen in the 2007 election by only seven votes. She won a full term on the Board of Supervisors in 2008, beating Dina Nguyen, an ally of Trung. Both Dina and Trung are of course allies of termed out Assemblyman Van Tran – who was once very close to Janet. They in fact had a joint honeymoon, at a Mexican resort. But they split when Tran tried to compel her to use his political team, back when she ran for the Garden Grove City Council.
Last year, Tran and Nguyen made up, as she endorsed his campaign against Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. You could tell from their pictures together that she was less than enthused, but the damage done by that endorsement will be long-lasting, as most constituents in the First District are big fans of Sanchez – not Tran.
Nguyen posed with Tran and Mexican-bashing Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, along with OC GOP Chairman Scott Baugh, on the cover of Viet Weekly, which you can see atop this post. That picture won’t help her as she tries to engender Latino votes in 2012.
Nguyen does have a First District Latino Advisory Committee, but its members include only Republicans, including consultant Theresa Ynzunza and past OC GOP Hispanic Outreach Director Manny Padilla.
Nguyen did not face a Latino challenger in 2008. You can bet she will in 2012. She got 55% of the vote in 2008, against Dina Nguyen and a weak Democrat, Hoa Van Tran. She got 24.1% of the vote in 2007, in a very crowded field. There were three Latinos in that race – the aforementioned Bustamante, whose political star crashed and burned in that race as he got only 16.5% of the vote; Minuteman Lupe Moreno got 383 votes and LULAC /O.C. Democratic Party activist Benny Diaz got the least votes on the ballot, with only 273 votes.
How will Nguyen convince Democratic and independent voters to support her in 2012? She will be running the same year that President Barack Obama will be up for re-election. You can bet that his campaign will work closely with Democrats in Santa Ana, including most of the Santa Ana City Council – and Obama’s campaign certainly won’t be helping Nguyen.
Nguyen does have some fans on the left, but few if any of them live in the First District. She won’t win over blue votes just because a few random blue bloggers like her.
It should be noted that Nguyen flirted with failed Santa Ana Mayoral candidate Alfredo Amezcua last year – but in the end she supported Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido. Will he return the favor – perhaps against one of his fellow Council Members? I doubt it, but that will be another interesting wrinkle in 2012.
Nguyen is fairly conservative and she is very much a Republican. She helped her former Chief of Staff, Andrew Do, to win a seat on the Garden Grove City Council, amidst carpetbagging allegations, and she got her husband, Thomas Bonikowski, appointed to the Garden Grove City Council. She also supported Anaheim carpetbagger Harry Sidhu last year, in his failed campaign for Supervisor, against Shawn Nelson. And Nguyen was a big supporter of failed Mexican-bashing GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. I would imagine that her eventual Democratic challenger will be bringing all of that to light in 2012.
Nguyen also won a seat on the OC GOP Central Committee last year, in the 68th Assembly District Caucus. She came in fourth, in what might be a bit of foreshadowing for the 2012 race. Termed out Westminster Councilman Kermit Marsh came in second, behind Ed Royce, Sr., who also serves on a local water board. Nguyen got barely more than three hundred votes than Jeff Matthews, an obscure Costa Mesa City Commissioner. And she got less votes than Mark McCurdy, who also won a seat on the Fountain Valley City Council last year.
How did the Chairman of the OC Board of Supervisors come in fourth place in a run for the OC GOP Central Committee? How did Nguyen get less votes than a water board member, a city commissioner, a termed out Councilman, and a Council candidate? And how is Nguyen going to rally the troops in 2012?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that Nguyen has quite a task ahead of her.