Primary election update: Incumbent Diep may be in trouble

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Assembly candidate Diep: what the heck is going on?

Final votes are still being counted from the March 3 Presidential Primary election but it looks like the incumbent in the 72nd Assembly District will lose his seat. Republican Tyler Diep has slipped into third place in the race to represent the district that includes Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and Rossmoor. For state and congressional contests, only the top two vote-getters advance to compete in the November general election regardless of party.

Last week, Democrat and Garden Grove City councilwoman Diedre Nguyen surpassed Diep to take second place. She now leads him by 825 votes according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters website as of March 17.

“So glad voters embraced our message of lower healthcare costs and better educational opportunities,” Nguyen wrote in an email.

If the results hold, Diedre Nguyen, who is also a cancer scientist, will face Republican and former state senator and businesswoman Janet Nguyen in November. Janet Nguyen is currently in first place, leading the race with 33.8% of the vote. Democrat and civil rights attorney Bijan Mohseni remains in fourth place.

“We’re very pleased and excited about the results,” Janet Nguyen said in a phone call on Tuesday but added she’s not making an official statement yet since the results are still preliminary.

Tyler Diep’s campaign issued this statement to The Event-News Enterprise: “I am sincerely thankful to all those who voted and placed their trust in me in this recent election. While the results aren’t what we wanted, I am committed to representing and fighting for my district until the last day.”

Diep was first elected to represent the 72nd district in 2018, the same election where four congressional seats in Orange County went from Republicans to Democrats. It was also the election where Janet Nguyen lost her reelection bid for her state senate seat to Democrat Tom Umberg.

Primary Reveals Republican Rift

The primary contest between the two Republicans, Janet Nguyen and Diep, revealed a rift among Orange County Republicans. The race was marked by negative ads and online attacks. She entered the race in December amid criticism of Diep by local GOP leaders. The Orange County Republican Party revoked its endorsement of Diep in January saying his votes were “incongruent with the Republican platform.” The group did not endorse a candidate in the primary for the 72nd AD. The California Republican Party still endorsed Diep.

“A few political insiders have made it their agenda to distort my record as I have done my best to represent my district in Sacramento,” Diep told the Orange County Register in February.

Diep was the only Republican in the Assembly to vote for AB 5, a bill that creates new rules for part-time or freelance workers. Many employers, including Lyft and Uber, opposed the bill. Political Action Committees, including one funded by Lyft, sponsored campaign mailers critical of Diep.

Nguyen’s campaign website says Diep is the one distorting voting records. An entire page on her site is dedicated to “Tyler Diep’s false attacks on Republican Janet Nguyen.”

During the phone interview on Tuesday, Janet Nguyen criticized Diep saying, “You cannot campaign as a conservative and go to Sacramento and vote with the Governor.” But she noted how Republicans need to shift gears. “At this point we need to unite as a community,” she said.

Now the focus turns to the general election.

“On the surface, the two candidates for Assembly in November might be hard to tell apart: two Vietnamese women named Nguyen with similar backgrounds,” Democrat Diedre Nguyen wrote in an email message. But she said the two couldn’t be more different.

“Janet Nguyen is an ultra-conservative career politician who dragged Tyler Diep’s moderate reputation through the mud leading up to Tuesday’s election. I am a cancer scientist, running to solve big problems facing California,” Diedre Nguyen wrote.

“It’s comical to say I’m a career politician,” Janet Nguyen said in response noting that Diedre Nguyen has been a councilwoman for Garden Grove since 2016. She characterized a vote for Diedre as a vote for more of the same in Sacramento. “I’m there to fight for our community.  I’m not there to negotiate,” Janet said.

Turnout & Other Election Results

“We have counted 804,410 ballots, bringing us to a 49.2% turnout for the Primary Election so far,” Orange County Registrar of Voters, Neal Kelley said in a press release on March 14. In some precincts in Seal Beach, turnout was even higher measuring above 60%. The results are still unofficial as counties have until April 3 to submit final results to the State. On March 17, there were still 1,749 ballots countywide left to count. Here’s a look at the results so far.

Congressional Contests

The 48th Congressional District covers all of Seal Beach. Incumbent Democrat Harley Rouda leads the race with 46.7% of the vote. It looks like he will face Republican Michelle Steel in November. Steel, an Orange County Supervisor and Surfside resident, is in second place with 34.9% of the vote.

The 47th Congressional District covers parts of Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor and Cypress. Incumbent Democrat Alan Lowenthal is leading with 45.0% of the vote. Republican John Briscoe, an Ocean View School District board member, has 17.3% of the vote. The results suggest that Lowenthal and Briscoe will face off in November which would be a rematch of the 2018 race.

Orange County Measure A

Orange County voters are approving of Measure A with the “yes” vote garnering 78.4% of the vote. Measure A would amend the Orange County Charter so that any proposal to increase or extend taxes would require a two-thirds supermajority vote of the Board of Supervisors before the tax proposal is considered by voters.

Statewide Measure Proposition 13

Proposition 13, the $15 billion bond measure to fund repairs and upgrades at California schools, is failing. Right now, 53.7% of the ballots said “No” to the statewide measure. The “Yes” vote is 46.3%.

For the latest tallies on Orange County contests, visit ocvote.com/results.

For statewide results visit, https://electionresults.sos.ca.gov/.