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SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and county Supervisor Shawn Nelson easily fended off re-election challenges today.
Rackauckas handily defeated Attorney Greg Diamond, a former Orange County Democratic Party official, liberal blogger and ex-Occupy activist. Diamond, 54, said he decided to challenge Rackauckas because no one else would. He criticized Rackauckas for personally prosecuting the Kelly Thomas case, which ended in the acquittals of the Fullerton police officers charged in the transient's death, and for not taking on the case against former Sheriff Mike Carona, who is jailed on corruption charges and scheduled to be released in November 2015.
Rackauckas, 71, had not faced a challenger since 2002. The Republican former Superior Court judge pointed to his office's 90 percent conviction rate, cold cases cleared based on DNA and prosecutions of sex traffickers as reasons voter should re-elect him for fifth term.
Board of Supervisors races are nonpartisan, though political affiliations do matter. Though Orange County used to be known as a GOP bastion, the Republican grip is weakening. Republican registration fell below 50 percent in 1999, and Orange County, once the state's most Republican, now ranks 16th in GOP registration.
Nelson, a Republican representing the county's Fourth District, was the only incumbent on the Board of Supervisors facing a challenger -- and he easily defeated Rudy Gaona, 40, of Anaheim.
The district stretches from Brea to Anaheim. Gaona, a Democrat who works for Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center as a supply specialist, touted his experience as an Army veteran.
Nelson, 47, an attorney by trade, serves as the board's chairman and came to the post by way of the Fullerton City Council.
In the race for Second District seat to replace termed-out Supervisor John Moorlach, Michelle Steel, a termed-out member of the state Board of Equalization, was leading the four-candidate field, but was just shy of the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a November runoff. Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, R-Costa Mesa, was second with 23.3 percent, while Jim Moreno, a trustee of the Coast Community College District and the only Democrat in the race, was close behind with 21.4 percent. Huntington Beach City Councilman Joe Carchio was a distant fourth.
Four candidates are competing to replace Fifth District Supervisor Patricia Bates, whose term expires in January. Dana Point Mayor Lisa Bartlett was leading the field, followed by Laguna Niguel Councilman Robert Ming, Mission Viejo Councilman Frank Ury and Deputy District Attorney Joe Williams. That race will likely head into a runoff.
The district is about 46 percent Republican and 27 percent Democrat, with 22 percent adhering to no political party, according to county data.
Ming, 43, who also serves on the board of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency, was endorsed by supervisors John Moorlach and Nelson.
Ury, 50, is an engineer by training who serves on the Orange County Transportation Authority board. His City Council term expires in 2016.
Bartlett, 54, serves as Dana Point's mayor and chairwoman for the Foothill Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency. She described herself as a public safety advocate and scored an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R- Dana Point.
Williams, 52, of Laguna Niguel, has been a prosecutor since 1995 but did not list a political affiliation. He pointed to his background in the military and law enforcement as qualifications for the job.
In the race for county clerk-recorder, incumbent Hugh Nguyen, who was appointed in 2013, outpaced Monica Maddox, a businesswoman who pledged to cut waste and fraud and not accept a pension; Gary Pritchard, 42, of Aliso Viejo, a member of the Capistrano Unified School District board; and retired teacher Steve Rocco, who did not submit campaign information to the League of Women Voters and California Education Fund.
County Assessor Webster Guillory was battling for re-election against Claude Parrish, a former chairman of the state Board of Equalization, and Jorge O. Lopez, an appraiser with 30 years in the assessor's office. Guillory was leading the race and flirting the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.
Meanwhile, county voters approved Measure A, requiring county elected officials -- members of the Board of Supervisors and countywide offices -- to pay their own pension costs.
Voters in the Buena Park Elementary School District approved Measure B, a $71 million bond measure to renovate schools.
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