Sacramento Loses Its Finest Legislator

Edward Ring

Director, Water and Energy Policy

Edward Ring
November 16, 2020

Sacramento Loses Its Finest Legislator

On November 13th, ten days after the election, and facing final counts that made any chance of victory impossible, California State Senator John Moorlach (R-37) conceded defeat to his challenger, Democrat David Min.

Reached for comment, Moorlach said “we worked hard on fundraising, the ground game, the phone calls; we worked hard, and we had a great team, but the Democratic party in Orange County is very organized.”

Moorlach is being polite. His defeat became inevitable when California’s wealthy prison guards union spent nearly $1 million in a late campaign push for Min, a University of California, Irvine associate law professor, with no experience in government and very limited work in the private sector.

Moorlach’s loss exemplifies the political power of government unions in California, and how their agenda is inherently in conflict with the public interest.

That lesson isn’t a secret. The Sacramento Bee’s analysis of political spending by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. The pattern is clear: CCPOA supports strong law and order candidates and initiatives – unless those candidates/initiatives conflict with the union’s primary objective: to boost the already extraordinary pay and benefits of its members.

The Bee’s article also shows that CCPOA’s new president, Glen Stailey, has embarked on a “push to regain the union’s former political might.” But to do that, in this new era where literally scores of newly minted leftist billionaires in Silicon Valley are willing to spend whatever it takes to establish their political might, CCPOA needs allies.

For this reason, it might have served CCPOA’s purposes better if they’d focused more on helping Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey defend her office against progressive former San Francisco prosecutor George Gascon. The only upside for the union in Gascon’s victory: he will pursue more of the policies that have already turned huge sections of Los Angeles into lawless hellscapes of filth and anarchy, likely producing more inmates for California’s already overcrowded prisons – more work for CCPOA members.

It might also have served the purposes of the CCPOA better if they’d taken some of the nearly $1 million they spent to defeat John Moorlach and added it to the $2 million they spent to support failed Proposition 20, which would have stiffened prison sentences and restricted parole. It is difficult to imagine how Californians are ever going to regain control of their streets, so long as street drugs, vagrancy and petty theft continue unchecked.

With these compelling political priorities, why on earth would the CCPOA also decide to take on John Moorlach, a conservative, law-and-order advocate from Orange County?

The answer is disappointing: Moorlach has two qualities that make him a threat to CCPOA, along with all other government unions: he is a strong communicator, he uses reason and tact to forge bipartisan consensus on legislation, and he is a Certified Public Accountant experienced in public-sector bankruptcies.

When Moorlach talked about the fact that California’s state prisons charge nearly $85,000 to house one inmate for one year, and California’s private prisons can do the same job for less than one-third that amount, other politicians listen. When Moorlach describes how California’s full-time state prison guards make on average $158,000 per year in pay and benefits, more than twice what they make in most other states, other politicians listen. When Moorlach explains how pension benefit obligations are going to break public sector budgets, and offers solutions to fix the problem, other politicians listen.

That could not be tolerated. Moorlach had to go.

Enter Dave Min, a lifelong Democrat who once served as an economic advisor to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has minimal experience in the private sector. Min is currently employed as a professor of law at UC Irvine, an institution of higher learning that is probably only eclipsed, and only barely, by UCLA as the biggest academic bastion of liberal insanity in all of Southern California.

As a career public employee, Min will have plenty of company in the California State Legislature. It’s overwhelmingly Democratic members are overwhelmingly lacking in private-sector experience. A  California Policy Center analysis of California’s 2019-20 state senate found that 79 percent of the Democrats have no private-sector experience. None. And it looks like, come January 2021, Democrats will fill 31 of the 40 seats in the upper house of the California State Legislature.

These financially challenged, union-compliant bobbleheads are the people who decide what sorts of laws and regulations California’s residents and businesses will have to live with. And when times are good, or even just good enough, they can go on committing political malpractice, because California’s economy is so big, its high-tech sector so wealthy, and its weather so fantastic, that it will take a very long time before a populist rebellion actually overwhelms the power of unions and billionaires. But that time will come.

Californians are not going to accept the ongoing explosion of lawlessness in their state. They aren’t going to tolerate having their streets controlled by vagrants, predators, addicts, thieves, alcoholics, schizophrenics, and anarchists. Sooner or later, voters are going to demand new forms of supervised incarceration – not just to get these hundreds of thousands of people off the streets – the largest homeless population in the U.S. – but to help them in ways that are affordable, practical, effective and humane.

When those hard choices have to be made, California’s Democratic politicians are going to have nothing to offer. They don’t have to raise money because the unions and the progressive billionaires provide it for them. They don’t have to come up with policies because government unions and the progressive billionaires tell them how to think. They haven’t developed the nerves and adaptability that are a prerequisite for success in the private sector because they’ve never worked in the private sector.

It will be in these times, coming soon, that California’s unions are going to need independent, creative thinkers like Senator Moorlach. When it comes time to balance the needs of the CCPOA with the practical limits of budget realities, and invent new ways to incarcerate and help victims of their own addictions and illnesses, John Moorlach is the type of politician California needs.

Someday, the CCPOA may very well wish they had not worked so hard to send home a man who was quite likely California’s finest state legislator.

Edward Ring is a co-founder of the California Policy Center. This article originally appeared on the website California Globe.

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