Rafu Wire and Staff Reports

SANTA ANA — With ballot-counting continuing from the March 3 primary, embattled Assemblymember Bill Brough (R-Dana Point) appeared headed for defeat.

Bill Brough and Laurie Davies

Brough, who was rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct by multiple women, including Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, was in fourth place as of March 16 with 16.65% of the vote (25,212) in his bid for a fourth term representing the 73rd Assembly District.

Brough was ahead of only Mission Viejo City Councilmember Ed Sachs, who had 13.88% (21,009), according to updated results released March 10 by the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

Laguna Niguel Mayor Laurie Davies, who was endorsed by the Orange County Republican Party after it rescinded an endorsement of Brough, led with 27.31% (41,350), and appeared to be heading into the November general election against Democrat Scott Rhinehart, a business services director.

Rhinehart was in second place with 23.76% (35,976). He lost to Brough in the 2018 general election.

Lisa Bartlett

In third place was Department of Homeland Security attorney and former federal prosecutor Chris Duncan with 18.39% (27,843).

“It is an honor to serve in the Legislature,” Brough told City News Service. “I always fight for what I believe is best for our community. I look forward to the next chapter of my life.”

Brough has denied the misconduct allegations, calling them unsubstantiated and politically motivated by anger over his attempts to rein in a local toll road agency.

Bartlett was recently honored by the Pacific Southwest District of the Japanese American Citizens League for speaking out against sexual harassment. The incident allegedly happened in 2011 when she and Brough were serving on the Dana Point City Council.

Last year, Bartlett cited the incident as reason for the Orange County GOP not to endorsee Brough in his bid for re-election.

In an Orange County Register opinion piece last month, party chairman Fred Whitaker said, “I personally sat down with two of the accusers, and then talked to Brough himself. I believed the women, while the assemblyman’s explanations rang hollow. Initially these women [other than Bartlett] were anonymous, seeking to protect their families, but Assemblyman Brough retaliated by publicizing their full names, further victimizing these whistleblowers …

“Bartlett also filed a complaint in 2011 with the city of Dana Point when she was on the City Council with Brough. She said, ‘I still have nightmares.’ I believe her.

“Two of the Republican women have filed complaints with the State Legislature and these investigations are ongoing. The results are likely to come out after the primary, but before the fall election …

“If Brough is one of the top two candidates who advances to the November runoff, Democrats will have eight long months to drag not only him, but all Republicans in Orange County through the mud.

“As we rebuild the Republican Party in Orange County and all California, we need candidates who are beyond reproach – candidates who can win.”

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