Reiff: Lawyer Ashleigh Aitken Planning Run for Anaheim Mayor (not for DA)

Trial lawyer Ashleigh Aitken, daughter of one of Orange County’s most influential Democrats, is planning to run for mayor of Anaheim next year.

The disclosure was made by Ashleigh’s father, Wylie Aitken, at a taping of the “Inside OC with Rick Reiff” public affairs program.

“She’s a proud citizen of Anaheim, she has been very involved in Anaheim city issues, and she’ll be shortly opening up a committee to run for mayor,” Wylie Aitken said.

Current Mayor Tom Tait, a Republican, is term-limited out in 2018.

Wylie Aitken said Ashleigh, a former federal prosecutor and past president of the Orange County Bar Association, has also been approached “by numerous people” about running for the embattled county district attorney’s office next year. That race has been shaping up as a battle royal between two established, but also controversial, Republicans, incumbent DA Tony Rackauckas and county supervisor Todd Spitzer.

But Wylie said Ashleigh’s “real focus” is the mayor’s race.

Ashleigh Aitken, 41, has been seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party. Retired Orange County Employees Association head Nick Berardino has referred to her as a “future governor of California.”

She is an attorney, along with her father, husband and two brothers, in the family law firm, Aitken Aitken Cohn. She has three daughters. Ashleigh is a director and former chair of the Orange County Fair Board.

Wylie Aitken mentioned Ashleigh’s planned run at the end of a show focusing on his career as a prominent trial lawyer, community leader, philanthropist and Democratic Party power broker in Republican-dominated Orange County.

He and wife Bette were at Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel in 1968 when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. His political beneficiaries have included former OC Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.

Drawing a parallel to the primary hurdles faced by the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, Wylie Aitken criticized the Democratic Party “establishment” for actively working against Sanchez in her losing U.S. Senate campaign against fellow Democrat Kamala Harris last year. He singled out Emily’s List, a women’s rights advocate, for contributing funds and running ads on behalf of Harris, even though both candidates were identically pro-choice.

Wylie Aitken said Republicans used to have such an iron grip on the county that people would whisper to him that they were Democrats: “All those whispers have turned to action. It’s okay, it’s okay to be a Democrat.” Citing OC’s demographic and voter-registration trends, he predicted, “We will become a Democratic county.”

(Disclosure: Wylie Aitken is board chairman of the Voice of OC.)

The “Inside OC” interview will begin airing Sunday on KDOC, PBS SoCal and Cox. All show times are here (www.rickreiff.com.)

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