Regardless of the ultimate outcome, the Lynn Daucher campaign deserves enormous credit for the strongest showing by a Republican candidate in central Central OC in years.
However, there is more to the story -- and credit must be given to the Republican Party of Orange County and The New Majority for creating the circumstances that made a Daucher victory -- or near-victory -- possible.
TNM's leadership (Tom Tucker, Larry Higby, Gary Hunt and Paul Folino) agreed to fund a voter registration drive but were uninterested in a generic effort, preferring to target resources in an area where their funds could change on outcome. Hence, the decision to target the 34th Senate District.
When the 34th Senate District was created in 2001, the Democrats had a registration advantage of 10.5% -- unsurprising since it was drawn to be a safe Democratic seat. By the time Sen. Joe Dunn was re-elected in 2002, that advantage had grown to 11%.
One of Scott Baugh's priorities upon becoming Republican Party of Orange County chairman was to begin reversing Democratic successes in the central OC legislative seats -- a goal that dove-taled with The New Majority's desire to constructively engage with the OC Republican Party.
The voter registration drive targeted Hispanics and Vietnamese in the 34th SD. A petition circulation firm and a bounty was offered. By March of 2006, after the program had been rolling for nearly a year, Republicans had erased the Democratic advantage and achieved equality in registration -- far outstripping anything years of volunteer-based efforts had yielded.
Naturally, the Democrats, realizing they'd been caught napping, launched their won registration program (Democrats also start their voter registration drives closer to election time since their voters have a tendency to move around).
Also, the stories about voter registration flipping by several of the registration workers began hitting the papers. The OC Register, smelling a Pulitzer, beat the drum loudly and slowly while the OC Democrats raised the cry of outrage to a fever pitch, accusing the OC GOP of "engaging in a pattern...blah, blah, blah." The OC Dems plan was to trigger the peculiar Republican trait that causes us, in such situations, to mistakenly think that appeasing such Democratic demands will get them to back off -- rather than encouraging them to demand another pound of flesh.
Fortunately, Orange County Republicans have a chairman who doesn't buckle. Rather than cave to great pressure to cancel the bounty program, Scott Baugh plowed ahead with it, and the New Majority backed him up and even kicked in another $50,000 to fund the registration program through late October.
Because Scott Baugh and The New Majority refused to be self-defeating Republicans and forged ahead with the paid registration program, they prevented to Democrats from reversing earlier gains and ultimately held the Democrats to just under a 3% registration edge. GOP registration for Republicans went from 82,668 in 2002 to 108,844 in October 2006 -- a gain of 26,176 Republicans.
I think it is safe to assume those new registrants formed the political environment in which Lynn Daucher could successfully contend for the 34th Senate District.
History is replete with instances where victory was lost because the would-be victor lost heart and abandoned the field just as the enemy was on the verge of capitulation. That could easily have happened here in Orange County were the forces of Orange County Republicanism in the hands of faint-hearts, rather than stalwarts. Sen. Dick Ackerman deserves recognition and respect for the Farrugut-like manner in which he plunged into the battle for the 34th, and Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher for her relentlessness and obliviousness to nay-sayers (including myself for some time).
At the same time, it would be remiss not to commend OC GOP Chairman Scott Baugh and The New Majority for fighting on in the arena even as the crowd jeered and threw stones. It was their efforts that opened the door to victory. That is the stern stuff on which enduring ascendancies are built.