Santana: Trump Fuels Historic Democratic Turnout in OC

Donald Trump helped Orange County Democrats do something last Tuesday they haven’t pulled off since World War II.

Out vote the GOP.

Turnout in Orange County for Democrats blew up for the June primary election, accounting for 55.2 percent of the vote while Republicans only accounted for 42.2 percent of turnout.

OC GOP Chairman Fred Whitaker is downplaying the Trump factor – arguing recently at the annual election wrap-up analysis at Concordia University’s Center for Public Policy that Orange County’s lax Republican turnout was due to an uncompetitive presidential primary in California.

But come on.

Just consider the results from the 65th State Assembly District between Republican incumbent Young Kim and Democrat Sharon Quirk Silva.

Silva, a one-time incumbent herself who was knocked off by Kim two years ago, easily bested a well-funded Kim campaign this June.

Note that the last time Quirk Silva won office, she was considerably behind in the primary when she went up against incumbent Assemblyman Chris Norby.

If that doesn’t convince you, consider the results in the First District Supervisorial race where incumbent Supervisor Andrew Do spent a considerable sum to avoid the runoff he now faces against Democrat Michelle Martinez.

Now, OK…had Garden Grove City Councilman Phat Bui not run (he garnered 19 percent of the vote, which took from Do’s tally), Do may have won outright.

But the telling mark here is that Martinez didn’t even run much of a campaign.

And she almost beat Do for the first slot.

In the 74th State Assembly, incumbent State Assemblyman Matt Harper lost to a relative unknown candidate, Karina Onofre. Both now go to November.

And in the 46th Congressional District, I kept hearing that a name like Joe Dunn would work in that district.

Instead, it was Correa who easily bested the field.

You don’t have to look over a poll to know that November’s Latino voter turnout will be massive.

Just walk down Fourth Street in Downtown Santa Ana, where you’ll see the Trump-faced Pinatas on display. The other day I noticed a “Fuck Trump” stenciled on the back of one car headed down First Street near Main Street.

At this rate, Trump may end doing a better job of getting Latinos vote than even Cesar Chavez.

“We’re seeing a lot of anti-Trump votes coming out,” said Orange County Democratic Chairman Henry Vandermeir at the Concordia event.

“If Trump remains, it’s going to be good for us,” he said.

While Whitaker isn’t wildly cheering Trump on in front of public audiences like the one at Concordia, he didn’t hesitate at all to say he would support Trump if he becomes the Republican nominee for the November election.

Now, Vandermeir figures that it will take another five to six years for Orange County to completely flip in terms of a permanent voter registration advantage for Democrats.

But who knows?

With new district elections being adopted in cities like Anaheim, Fullerton and Garden Grove – and an increasing number of candidates from communities that haven’t historically voted – Republicans might find themselves in minority status faster that expected.

One of the big pillars of Republican Latino outreach in Orange County, Whitaker said, is to target county school board elections on the charter school issue, arguing that many urban schools are failing Latino families.

Whitaker also pointed to the county board of education election – which saw incumbent Republican Robert Hammond come out on top of a field of candidates despite a controversy with the LBGT community because of Hammond’s remarks on recent legislation around gender choice and bathroom access in public schools.

Many Republican officials like Whitaker believe gender issues also may help them in the Latino community, hopeful that buzzwords like what he calls “traditional culture” will work with Latino voters.

Indeed, during the last election, I recall then-OC GOP Chairman Scott Baugh and OC GOP Treasurer Mark Bucher knocking on doors in Santa Ana around the gender issue in Latino neighborhoods.

Their problem, as usual, is they never went back.

Yet no problem: this November, Latinos will likely leave their own knock on the GOP door.

And Orange County may never be the same again.

Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated that Karina Onofre and Matt Harper are competing to represent the 72nd State Assembly District. We regret the error.