Where Is Irvine’s Republican Team?

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Many months ago, incumbent Irvine Democratic City Councilmen Larry Agran and Sukhee Kang and council hopeful Shiva Farivar formed an election slate. They agreed to coordinate their campaigns and promote themselves to Irvine residents as a single, unified team.

That is the way it traditionally goes in Irvine — candidates are presented to voters via Democratic and Republican slates. Yet with less than two months to go before Election Day, the Republicans remain slateless.

This doesn’t bode well for the GOP, said former City Councilman Christopher Mears. Mears is of the mind that the only way to win an Irvine election is to be on a slate. Others won’t go that far, but most agree that being on a slate helps a candidate’s prospects.

The reason for this lies in how the ballot is constructed. It asks voters to make three selections: two candidates for City Council and one candidate for mayor. And, the reasoning goes, voters are more likely to pick three candidates who are packaged together.

This puts the city’s top Republican candidate, local attorney Jeff Lalloway, at a disadvantage heading into November, Mears said.

“A voter that goes to put their vote in for Jeff Lalloway, who do they put their other vote for? And why?” Mears asked. “Any of these solo candidates are dead meat.”

If Lalloway is worried about this, he isn’t showing it. He won’t give an opinion on the need for a Republican slate, and won’t confirm whether one is being put together.

“At this point, we are still very early in the electoral process, and no decisions have been made one way or another,” Lalloway said.

But really, why hasn’t a Republican slate formed yet?

Republican Councilwoman Christina Shea, who is stepping down at the end of the year, said it is partially due to the fact that there isn’t a sitting GOP council member to lead the way. And, she said, Republicans aren’t as cohesive as Democrats in Irvine.

“It’s just a little more disconnected — that’s the way Republicans work in this city,” Shea said. She added that the benefit of running together just “has not clicked with these individuals.”

Pollster and Irvine insider Adam Probolsky says it’s because this year’s GOP candidate field is weak. And he goes so far as to say that it doesn’t make sense for Lalloway to team up because he would end up carrying candidates who aren’t nearly as well financed.

Probolsky doesn’t see the other Republican candidates as even viable.

“That should make it real easy to see why there is no ‘Republican ticket’ — there’s no other Republican that is running,” Probolsky said. “There’s no aha! surprise there to me.”

Agran, meanwhile, is guessing that a GOP team will come together, even if it is late.

“My guess is it will materialize — they’ll see some advantage in joining forces informally,” he said.


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