In interviews for IVN, Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen (R) and Democratic Assemblyman Jose Solorio (AD-69) were asked how their campaigns to represent Senate District 34 plan to appeal to the district’s 80,000 independent voters. Voter registration is almost evenly split between the Republican and Democratic parties, 35.3 percent and 38.3 percent, respectively. Independents and third-party voters comprise over 25 percent of the district’s voting population.
Both candidates agree that independents will be critical for a victory in November, but see different paths to success. Solorio paints himself as a pragmatic, Sacramento problem-solver, while Nguyen is focused on restoring Republican influence in the legislature.
Question: How does your platform speak to the interests of non-affiliated voters?
“As a nonpartisan officeholder, I serve a politically diverse population in central Orange County. We currently have one party rule in Sacramento and it is not serving the best interests of all Californians. My family escaped communist, one-party rule in Vietnam and came to America in search of a better life. When any one party has too much power, it leads to abuse and corruption. My platform is all about improving our economy and job outlook, helping schools and keeping our neighborhoods safe. These are issues that concern all voters, regardless of affiliation.”
“Our platform on the Three E’s (Education, Economy and Environment) are of interest to all voters in our Senate district, including independents. From the start of our campaign, we’ve known that independent voters with No Party Preference would be an important part of our victory formula. In our campaign office, we make sure that we consider independents as much as we do Democrats and Republicans.
With an increasing number of independents in our Senate district, I believe there is also an increasing desire for candidates like myself that have a track record of working with both Democrats and Republicans.”
Question: What is your campaign strategy going into November?
“With our strong grounding in the Senate district, we didn’t have another Democrat running against us in the primary. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, there were two candidates running against each other. We decided to run a modest “Vote for Vets” campaign supporting Prop. 41 with a ballot measure committee I have, and preserved our Solorio for Senate committee dollars.
We now have a cash advantage going into the November general election and have plans underway to launch an aggressive field and media campaign prior to the November election. We know we made the right decision to save our resources for November. That’s the contest that matters.”
Question: Do you expect there to be much competition in the general election?
“The stakes are very high in SD-34. If I win, one-party rule will be broken and the majority party will be forced to compromise. If my opponent wins, compromise will not be needed and we will see attempts to undermine Prop. 13 and other important laws. […] In the end, I fully trust the voters in SD-34 to see through the political posturing and would be honored to serve as their representative in the state Senate.”
Question: How has your tenure as an elected representative prepared you for the state Senate?
“With six years under my belt in state policymaking during periods of major reforms, I believe I’m the best prepared candidate in our race. But in addition to that, as a member of the Democratic Caucus, I will be much more effective for our Orange County and Long Beach residents than any Republican in the minority party could ever be. Let’s face it, right now you need to be a Democrat in Sacramento to get things done.
I’ve been in a position to work with Democrats and Republicans in Sacramento on big issues like pension reform, budget reform, and workers compensation reform. My experience and ability to work across the aisle makes me both a good candidate and policy maker.”
“Serving as a county supervisor, and before that as a city council member, has been a tremendous honor. My district is the most ethnically diverse in Orange County and also the poorest. I have worked hard to find real solutions to local problems and to make government more responsive and more accountable. I will take that same approach with me to the state Senate.”
Question: Why do you think primary turnout was down? How do you plan to encourage voters to participate more?
“Voters are smarter than we give them credit. They know the big races that matter are always in November. We plan on campaigning heavily to likely voters, but [we] will also be funding an aggressive field program to get out all our Solorio voters to vote by mail in October and on Election Day in November.”
“June turnout has been harmed by the governor’s decision to move all ballot measures to November. I believe that decision needs to be reversed. General apathy is also a big contributor to low turnout, as is a lack of competitive races. Like all campaigns, mine will be working to turnout our supporters in November — hopefully in record numbers.”