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Newport's City Council races are heating up

Politics Aside

June 08, 2006|By S.J. CAHN

Even Heffernan knows he will face the daunting task of convincing voters he will stick out his two years. In a brutal race, a few votes might make the difference, and he likely will be facing questions about his resignation up until the election.

I think at first it will be a legitimate issue, and we can figure that the former mayor believes he has a strong answer to it, or he wouldn't be running. But if it dies away ? really, even if it doesn't ? I think the key in this race will be Greenlight voters' support of Heffernan.

If he can keep them, he can win. I think it's difficult ? Curry will be formidable, and Heffernan does need to answer the commitment questions ? but the numbers are there.

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In 2004, Heffernan beat Dolores Otting 20,233 votes to 17,108. (He'll absolutely have to have her support as part of Greenlight's backing to win, and strangely enough, I'm assuming her votes largely will fall to him and Curry will pick up much of Heffernan's support.) In 2000, when he first won his seat, he garnered 12,313 votes versus former City Manager Bob Wynn's 10,941 and then-incumbent Tom Thomson's 8,081.

In a two-person race, Heffernan will have to get that 20,000 again. It's out there, in the form of Greenlight.

Back in 2000, the Greenlight initiative won its way into city law as Measure S by the count of 21,355 to 12,465. (The competing Measure T saw about the reverse vote, losing 21,075 to 11,641.)

In 2001, in a special election that was the first "test" of Greenlight just in Newport Beach, the Koll Center project fell by a vote of 6,388 against and 4,355 for it.

Far more compelling, just two years ago, the Marinapark vote was 14,798 for a resort on the Balboa Peninsula and 29,997 against it.

If Heffernan can tap into those voters who remember him as Greenlight's strong voice on the council, he has a chance.

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