In explaining her decision to remove Irvine City Council candidate Jeff Lalloway from the city’s finance commission, outgoing Irvine Councilwoman Christina Shea said his campaign mailer depicting him as the only Republican in the race, was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Well, conversations with Irvine Republican insiders reveal that the Lalloway firing may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for Shea and the Orange County Republican Party.
Local GOP insiders say Shea has a history of going rogue at inopportune times and that her actions have helped Democrat Larry Agran maintain control of Irvine politics. And they’re tired of having her on the team.
Irvine Republican candidates have “been unable to unify ourselves on a slate every year she’s been in office, and it’s been because of Christina that we haven’t been able to do that,” said Republican and former city Planning Commissioner Scott Peotter.
Republican pollster Adam Probolsky was even more blunt: “I think she’s toast. I don’t think she’s got a chance at all of being elected anywhere.”
Shea says sexism, not her actions, is what is really at the root of her problems with men like Peotter.
“They will support a man over a woman any time. They belittle them; call them power hungry,” Shea said. “Women have had to deal with this for years.”
The Lalloway firing has Shea accused by many, including OC Register columnist Frank Mickadeit, of giving Agran “ammunition” in a bid to expand his control of the council by way of a 4-1 supermajority.
The first time something similar happened, insiders say, is when she broke away from the Republican team and formed her own slates in 1996 and 1998. They say the move divided the city’s Republican vote and allowed Agran to swoop in and grab a council seat.
The insiders go on to say that she’s been slowly destroying support from the party for years. They argue that her relationships with public employee unions and votes against private property rights on projects like the Irvine Business Complex run counter to GOP values.
Shea counters that the 1996 election, which featured her running for mayor on a competing slate against Republicans Peotter and former Mayor Mike Ward, involved a vicious — and sexist — campaign against her. She cited a mailer allegedly sent to city residents by Peotter that said Shea would have her daughters abort unwanted pregnancies.
Shea added that her record shows that she has good enough name ID to win with or without the party’s support. And in any event, she said she intends to take an extended break from politics upon leaving her council seat at the end of the year.
“I need to take a break,” Shea said. “I think taking a break is a really good thing.”
On that, Shea and the party agree.
— ADAM ELMAHREK