Incumbent local GOP Chairman Scott Baugh easily beat back Tea Party candidate Tim Whitacre’s challenge in Monday night’s Republican Central Committee election of officers.

But the Tea Party did make its presence felt. Villa Park City Councilwoman Deborah Pauly, who describes herself as a “blended” Tea Party and establishment candidate, bested Flash Report editor Jon Fleischman but had to go through a runoff to do it.

Whitacre, who said he represents the everyday Republican, had a boisterous group of supporters cheering for him in the back of the ballroom at the Irvine Marriott hotel, where the GOP held its meeting. But all the hoopla didn’t translate into a win for the Santa Ana resident.

It wasn’t even close. Baugh finished with 43 votes — about double Whitacre’s tally.

Whitacre reacted to the vote with a mix of disappointment and enthusiasm, saying that while many Central Committee members “didn’t dare stray,” he “paved the way for new blood to get up there.”

Fleischman, meanwhile, said that Baugh’s victory was a victory for the Tea Party. “Scott is as Tea Party as anyone else,” Fleischman said.

Not everyone in the Republican establishment was as willing to chat about the results.

Republican pollster and party insider Adam Probolsky said he couldn’t discuss the night’s events because he had “nothing good to say.”

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to Jon Fleischman as the incumbent vice chairman of the Orange County Republican Party.


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