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Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Local politics are taking shape and the money begins telling the story

Fair Game Toms new headshotPolitical contribution totals for local candidates were reported over the last few days as the filing period ended yesterday, January 31. The monies reported were campaign contributions given during the last six months of 2021. 

Perhaps the biggest news was the $141,079 in total contributions received by City Council candidate Joe Stapleton, bringing his calendar year war chest to over $156,000 to date.

Couple that with just $15,600 of reported expenses, leaves Stapleton sitting on an ending cash balance of $140,483, so far, with nine months left until Election Day.

Perhaps as equally impressive as the money Stapleton raised is that it came from some 300+ individual donations. Both the amount raised and the number of donors were record-setting numbers for an initial filing period for a Newport Beach City Council candidate.

Stapleton is running for the District 1 seat to be vacated by Diane Dixon, who herself is running for a State Assembly seat. More on Dixon a little later.

First, though, is a look at Stapleton’s announced opposition for the District 1 seat, namely Tom Miller.

Miller is a Newport Beach resident, obviously. He’s an extremely successful self-made businessman who sold his company in 2021, for let’s just say, a lot of money!

As Tom told me over lunch recently, he’s worked hard and has done “well enough” to make certain that his children and their children are well-taken care of. That’s certainly success in my mind.

Miller also pointed out that although he’s new to the election game, he’s confident he has what it takes to win, saying it’s what he’s done all his life.

His campaign disclosure statement, however, was almost the complete opposite of Stapleton’s at this point. Miller reported just $1,530 raised from two donors, along with a $125,000 personal loan to his campaign.

Additionally, Miller reported expenditures of $28,186, which was mostly comprised of two very impressive holiday messages to the community, one at Thanksgiving and one during the Christmas holiday season.

Stapleton and Miller make up the only contested council race to date for 2022.

Other campaign reports included Robyn Grant, the council candidate hoping to replace the District 4 seat being vacated by Kevin Muldoon. She reported donations of $59,239 from just under 50 donors. Both numbers are also impressive at this early date.

Joy Brenner, running for re-election in Corona del Mar for District 6, reported donations of $18,554 for the recent period, leaving her with an ending cash balance of nearly $21,000.

Lastly, Erik Weigand, actively running for Duffy Duffield’s District 3 seat, had no form FPPC 460 available for review prior to publication time.

Just to reiterate, Grant, Brenner and Weigand have no announced opposition to this point, but the formal filing period for Council does not officially open until summer.

There’s a lot to still happen on that local scene!

Several other races with strong local interest include Diane Dixon’s bid for the 72nd Assembly District. Dixon, who currently serves on the Newport Beach City Council, but is termed out, reported contributions of $210,000 when combining totals raised in both her Assembly and prior OC Supervisor accounts.

She’s also received major endorsements along the way from the Lincoln Club, the Republican Party of Orange County and from a number of top OC Republicans.

On a different front, the campaign of Newport Beach Mayor Kevin Muldoon, who is actively raising money for a run at the District 5 OC Supervisor seat, appears to be in some potential turmoil. 

His recent filing shows just over $50,000 in recent contributions, to bring his calendar year-to-date contributions to $176,907. That sounds impressive, until you see off-setting total expenditures of $389,486.

His reported Current Cash Statement still reports an ending balance of $32,875, with a remaining outstanding debt of $45,212.

Still, though, Muldoon appears to be actively seeking donations.

Muldoon is expected to face Katrina Foley, who is OC Supervisor for the 2nd District, but because of re-drawn district lines will now move over to the 5th District.

Foley’s big announcement this week is that she has hired Alyssa Napuri, formerly Congressman Harley Rouda’s Campaign Manager for the same role.

• • •

The Vincent D. Mulroy Scholarship Award was presented late last month to Newport Harbor High School senior and star football quarterback AJ Guitron-Moore at the Tars season-ending football banquet.

The award is presented annually to the NHHS graduating offensive football player who has demonstrated the highest level of athleticism, citizenship and academics. 

Guitron-Moore quarterbacked the Sailors to the 2021 CIF Division 6 Championship.

Vincent Mulroy, the award’s namesake, was an accomplished athlete and student leader at NHHS who graduated in 1975. He then headed on to Stanford University, where he was an Academic All-American wide receiver under coach Bill Walsh and continued to excel in life.

After his untimely death in 2009, teammates and friends created the award in his honor, which also includes $1,500 towards the recipient’s college tuition.

Mulroy’s former teammate and long-time Newport Beach resident Rick John presented the award to Guitron-Moore, adding, “With Vince Mulroy, you knew you were in the presence of greatness.”

Congratulations AJ.

• • •

It’s baaackkk! After a one-year hiatus while the world was fighting through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hoag Classic returns to Newport Beach Country Club March 2-6. The tournament, formerly known as the Toshiba Classic, is presented by Konica Minolta and City National Bank.

During the history of the tournament, the Hoag Classic has become one of the most philanthropic events in PGA TOUR Champions history, raising more than $20 million for Hoag and a number of other local charities.

Although the week is about great professional golf, there’s so much more to it. Events throughout the week include multiple pro-ams, an always great Tuesday Breakfast with a Champion, presented by Allergan, a Saturday Military Appreciation Day, presented by CoreLogic, along with a Sunday Student Day, presented by Kingston Technology.

With thousands of locals who attend the event, add in 250+ corporate sponsors who spend the week entertaining customers and clients, along with some 800 community volunteers and it truly is Newport Beach at its best!

• • •

And just as an aside, anyone wondering how the Newport Beach Country Club course is playing these days, no worries, it’s great! 

I played there yesterday with member Doug Forde in a NBCC Employee Scholarship Fund Tournament. The tournament was designed by several members and supported by ownership with the express intent to raise money to support a healthy club employee scholarship fund.

Members supported it with a sold-out field.

So, with just a little over a month until the pros arrive, I can tell you the course is in near perfect condition, with some subtle changes that has made the course better, and from what I hear, more of those are coming later in the year.