This story has been updated with the latest election results.

Early results have 10 Republicans and eight Democrats in the top two positions to head to the November runoffs for nine state-level races in Orange County.

While Democrats statewide are a lion’s share of lawmakers in Sacramento, Republicans currently hold seven of Orange County’s state-level offices, while Democrats hold five.

Janet Nguyen was leading by just under 9 percentage points over incumbent State Assemblyman Tyler Diep in the race to represent the 72nd state Assembly District – which includes Orange County’s Little Saigon, while Laguna Niguel Mayor Laurie Davies is leading by six percentage points for a South Orange County seat in front of Democratic candidate Scott Rhinehart and nearly 10 percentage points over incumbent Bill Brough, the embattled state assemblyman dogged by harassment allegations and questions about campaign spending, according to the most recent round of election results.

If current election trends hold, Brough could get knocked out of contention for his seat in the primary and Rhinehart, who’s currently holding second in the latest election results, could advance to November.

Meanwhile State Senate incumbent Ling Ling Chang was leading by nearly 20 percentage points across Orange, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties for a state Senate district where Josh Newman is attempting a comeback following his recall from the same seat in 2018 over his support of a statewide gas tax measure.

In the 55th State Assembly District — where a Republican holds office in a primarily blue, tri-county electorate — incumbent State Assemblyman Phillip Chen was leading by 24 percentage points across Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties over Democratic challenger Andrew Rodriguez. 

And in the 74th State Assembly District — where a Democrat holds office in a primarily red electorate — incumbent State Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris was leading by 19 percentage points over Republican challenger and Newport Beach City Councilwoman Diane Dixon. 

Early elections results also showed Republican incumbent John Moorlach leading by 26 percentage points in the 37th State Senate district, Democratic incumbent State Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva leading by eight percentage points in her district, former Irvine mayor Steven Choi leading by 14 percentage points for the 68th State Assembly District, and Democratic incumbent Tom Daly leading by 41 percentage points for the 69th State Assembly District.

The primary results for Orange County’s state-level races will determine who will represent the county in Sacramento. 

Two races that generated significant attention this year have been the 72nd and 73rd State Assembly district contests, which have generated tension among county Republican Party officials.

Diep’s reelection bid for the 72nd District — which encompasses Orange County’s Little Saigon — comes as his own party has dropped its endorsement for him over his support for labor union-friendly policies at the state level. 

Janet Nguyen, his opponent, is a fellow Republican and Vietnamese American who formerly was a county supervisor and state senator. 

If they both end up in the top two, voters in the district will have to decide between two conservative Vietnamese candidates they prefer for the seat.

Whoever wins the 72nd State Assembly district seat will represent Orange County’s Little Saigon. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

The two others vying for the seat — Bijan Mohseni, an LGBTQ+ rights attorney, and Deidre Nguyen, a Garden Grove City Councilwoman — are both Democrats.

Of the district’s nearly 253,000 registered voters, 86,000 are registered as Democrats while Republicans still hold a majority of nearly 89,000 registered voters there. 

In the most recent election in 2018, Diep won his seat with 52 percent of the district’s voters, while his opponent, Democrat Josh Lowenthal, got 48 percent.

In south Orange County, Brough has been hit with a slew of wrongdoing accusations against him that range from alleged campaign finance abuses to claims of sexual harassment leveled against him by multiple women, including Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett. He’s denied wrongdoing.

State Assemblyman Bill Brough. Credit: Bill Brough

Brough was first elected in 2014, and in his last election won with 56 percent of the district’s voters while his opponent, Democrat realtor Scott Rhinehart, got 43 percent.

This year Brough faces a stacked ballot of Democratic and Republican challengers to his incumbency. Rhinehart and Duncan, a Homeland Security attorney, are the two Democrats. 

Brough’s fellow Republican challengers are Davies, the mayor of Laguna Niguel, and Ed Sachs, who also ran unsuccessfully in the 2018 primary.

Of the district’s 298,000 registered voters, Republicans have maintained the lead in registration with 123,000 registered voters, while Democrats by comparison count nearly 88,000 registered voters.

Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC reporting fellow. Contact him at bpho@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @photherecord.

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