Less than a month after dropping out of the Congressional race and announcing a run for State Assembly, Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar finds himself among the race’s frontrunners in endorsements and fundraising.
Today, Huntington Beach City Councilman Matthew Harper dropped out of the race for the 72nd State Assembly seat and threw his endorsement behind Edgar, who made his candidacy official this week. A flood of major endorsements followed, including endorsements from Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. Considered by many to be the candidate to beat, Harper’s exit and subsequent endorsement could be a game-changer. On the day that Edgar announced his candidacy, Westminster Councilman Tyler Diep dropped out of the race. If elected, Edgar would be the first Los Alamitos city leader to hold the state office.
According to the Orange County Registrar of Voters website, there are only four candidates who filed election papers by today’s deadline including Edgar, Retired Police Commander Albert Ayala, business owner Joe Dovinh, and Orange County Board of Education member Long Pham.
However, the election is not over until November, and Edgar says he’s not taking anything for granted.
“I plan on running a very hard campaign,” said Edgar.
The newly formed 72nd District includes portions of Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos, Garden Grove and Santa Ana. With Los Alamitos being the smallest of those cities, Edgar’s challenge will be to introduce himself to voters in the larger communities and convince them that he can represent their interests in Sacramento.
In a statement ending his candidacy, Harper wasn’t shy about recommending Edgar for the job.
“I endorse Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar and ask you to please support him as well. I am confident that he will hold the line against higher taxes and instead fight to reduce spending to balance the state budget,” Harper wrote. “Under current law, Edgar will be eligible to serve up to three terms to 2018 in the California State Assembly. Under city term limits, I am eligible to serve to 2018, rotating in as mayor of the City of Huntington Beach during my second term. Under current circumstances, I plan to run for California State Assembly in 2018.”
Coming on the last day for candidates to file their election papers Harper’s, announcement effectively precludes opponents who were sitting on the sidelines from entering the race to fill the void created by his withdrawal. The timing did not go unnoticed by Huntington Beach Councilman Joe Carchio, who told The Orange County Register that he would have run in the race had he known that Harper would withdraw.
Citing his own philosophical and political similarities to Harper, Edgar praised Harper’s decision to bow out of the race.
“It was a very difficult decision for Matt Harper,” Edgar said. “I respect him very much.”
With communities such as Fountain Valley and Westminster hit hard by the loss of redevelopment money, Edgar said he believes the winning candidate will have to demonstrate an ability to fight for resources for cities. Toward that end, Edgar believes his experience in the rough-and-tumble political environment of Los Alamitos will prepare him to be effective as a member of the Assembly’s minority party.
“Look at Los Alamitos. For a small city, it’s one of the toughest political cities out there,” he said.
The experience, said Edgar, taught him how to be pragmatic, to pick his battles, and to influence policy decisions even from a minority position. However, his willingness to do battle has earned him a share of critics.
Los Alamitos City Councilman Warren Kusumoto, who is often at political odds with Edgar, declined to comment on Edgar’s campaign.
Predicting that Harper’s withdrawal could translate into an election victory for Edgar, Kusumoto said that Los Alamitos officials should prepare a plan for filling Edgar’s seat on the council for the remaining two years of his term.