Monday, June 27, 2022

Torrance City Council Election 2022, Reflections: The Mayor's Race

Torrance Mayor George Chen

Now that the dust is settling after the June 7th, 2022 election day, I wanted to take some time to analyze the results of the Torrance City Council races.

There is so much to unpack, and more importantly there is so much to celebrate.

Let's start with the Mayor's race.

It was a contest between twice-elected city councilman George Chen and twice-elected FORMER city councilman Cliff Numark.

Councilman, and now MAYOR Chen, has had an incredible, meteoric rise in the city of Torrance.

He first ran for city council in 2018, and he was elected by the at-large electorate, since the city council districts were imposed later that year.

He and Councilman Mattucci were elected that year, and their triumph was only augmented by the fact that they pushed out left-leaning incumbent Kurt Weideman. Quite an upset!

But Councilman, now MAYOR Chen's victories deserve more recognition.

Every time that Chen has run, he has not received the support for the political establishment in any way, shape, or form.

Every public sector union operating in the city has endorsed someone else (as in 2018), or they have endorsed George Chen's appoint. He became 0 for 3 in terms of public sector union endorsements.

Yet each time, George Chen has prevailed. This is really amazing!

But it gets better.

Chen has never sat on a commission in the city of Torrance. Ever. He has not played the "Torrance Way" political games which other city councilmembers and mayors have played for the last thirty years. As Southeast Torrance Homeowners Association President John Bailey had shared with me a few years ago, there is a political establishment in this town, something of a uniparty of Republicans and Democrats who give into all the special interests, who maintain their little club of politically connected self-congratulators. They have pretty much run things in the city of Torrance for the last few decades.

Mayor Chen is not part of that system. He has really broken it up!

He had no backing from the public sector unions.

He had no support from the Scotto-Furey-Ashcraft-Geissert-Armstrong political establishment.

And he won!

His second victory deserves considerable recognition, too.

In 2020, after the city council divided up the city elections in council districts, Chen had to make a choice: either finish the rest of his term at large and not run for city council again, or run a second time for a new seat, District Two.

To make the second choice even more challenging, another city council incumbent Geoff Rizzo lived in District Two, and he was up for re-election in 2020 regardless.

Rizzo had been elected twice already, and city wide: first in 2014, where he was the fourth from the top vote-getter. He had to run again in 2016, because his election filled in a seat for someone else. I even endorsed Rizzo in 2016, just to make sure that turncoat RINO Lie-Lani Kimmel-Dagostino did not get into city council that year.

Rizzo had two victories under his belt. What's more, he was a retired lieutenant from the Torrance Police Department. On top of that, he had the backing of every political machine in the city, including Scotto's people as well as the Torrance Police Officers Association.

Yet for all of that support, Rizzo lost to Councilman Chen by double digits: 57%-43%!

What an incredible upset for the city, and a big win for all city residents. It was really something! I spoke with a number of local conservative activists in Torrance, and they were convinced that Rizzo was going to win out, since he had the backing of the police officers' union.

And yet George Chen won!

Remember, that was his second victory, too.

And now, George Chen is mayor. I cannot think of any mayor in the city's history who did not first serve on one of the commissions. To the best of my knowledge, Councilman Chen is the first outsider to get elected to the city council without "playing the game."

What's also remarkable is that unlike the two previous elections for mayor, George Chen did not have to contend with another Republican splitting the vote. In 2014, Tom Brewer and Bill Sutherland refused to adults and put the needs of the city first, and they both insisted on running for mayor. That split allowed Creepy Pat Furey to cut through the middle and become mayor with a bare 40% of the vote.

This is a big deal, folks. This is not just a win for better governance in the city of Torrance, but a victory for everyone in the city who has felt slighted, ignored, or dismissed by the uniparty political class that put their own narrow interests ahead of the city.

And let's contrast George Chen with Cliff Numark more discretely.

Numark was the machine candidate, if there ever was one. As I had shared above, he had already been elected twice before to the Torrance city council. He was first elected in 2008, a record year for Democrats nationally as well as locally. He was then elected again in 2012.

But then came 2013, when Numark wanted to climb up the political ladder. He ran for the El Camino College Board of Trustees, and he got elected there. Numark abandoned the city of Torrance for political posturing: let's call it what it is.

Numark would get elected two more time to the college board, where without a doubt he locked up the support from teachers unions and other political special interests. He was riding high on the Democratic Party pathway to power. A number of powerbrokers in the South Bay wanted Cliff Numark to think about running for State Assembly next, since Al Muratsuchi will be termed out in 2026, but he may just as well as retire in 2024.

So, out of nowhere, nine years later, after serving on the College Board out of the public eye, where he went to every length to impose onerous health mandates on every student (regardless of their health status), Cliff Numark wanted to run for mayor of the city of Torrance. Really? 

"Where have you been, Cliff?" was probably the first question on a lot of people's minds.

Of course, the political establishment in Torrance asked Cliff to run for city council. I was really shocked, dismayed, and downright disgusted to see so many so-called "Republicans" line up behind Cliff Numark. Geoff "The RINO" Rizzo supported Cliff Numark, of course, since Chen had knocked him off the city council in 2020. It was just bitterness, pure and simple. But then Heide Ashcraft, too? A number of conservatives in the city told me that Heidi was a tough lady, and that nothing phased her.

And yet she caved and pandered to the political establishment, just like everyone else. Of course, no one should take this as a shock. She has been part of the political class herself for at least two decades. She served at least three terms on the Torrance School Board, and then the city council appointed her to fill in Sue Rhilinger's seat in 2013, followed by her top victory in Election 2014.

Still, I would have assumed that Councilwoman Ashcraft would have had enough fortitude to stand up to Creepy Pat Furey and his bullying, too. After all, retired Councilman Maureen O'Donnell rushed down to the Torrance City Council chambers in 2014 after soon-to-be former Mayor Pat Furey shamed Councilman Ashcraft in front of everyone.

Furey has been a true blight on the city of Torrance, yet of course he would endorse Cliff Numark, too. No surprises there. And just as every special interest in the city lined up behind Geoff Rizzo, so too they supported Cliff Numark for mayor. The police officers union, the firefighters association, and every other government union in the city AND THE COUNTY lined up behind Cliff Numark. The Sierra Club even leant their endorsement to Cliff Numark!

"Quittin'" Cliff was the machine candidate. He had more money, more endorsements, more of just about everything one presumably needs to get elected ...

And he lost!

George Chen beat the system, beat the political machine, beat the long-standing "Torrance Way" establishment in the city. What a victory!

Truly, it's all because of the Grace of God. There was nothing in George's strengh, experience, or skill-set which would have determined his victory. It's the blessings and grace of God that Torrance finally has a good mayor, Mayor Chen, to lead the city through the tough times ahead.

No comments:

Post a Comment