OC Register: New challenger to Rep. Ed Royce wields $2 million
August 2, 2017
Businessman Andy Thorburn on Tuesday joined the growing field of Democrats challenging Republican congressman Ed Royce, immediately distinguishing himself by announcing he’d given his campaign a $2 million jump-start. That’s four times as much as the other five challengers combined reported raising in last month’s filings.
Thorburn, a former teacher and union activist who made his wealth in the insurance business, said the election of Donald Trump — and the lack of outcry from Royce over the controversial behavior of the president — spurred his decision to run.
“There’s too much silence,” said the 74-year-old Villa Park resident. “I’m really fed up and I’m not the type to sit around when something bothers me.”
Thorburn was born in Brooklyn, started his career as a high school teacher in New Jersey and quickly became active in the teacher’s union — including getting jailed in 1970 for violating a court order against striking. He says the strike helped win improved wages and smaller classes.
Thorburn then founded a company selling insurance. More recently, his was CEO of Foothill Ranch-based Global Benefits Group from 2005 to 2015. He remains on the board of the international insurance company and is its largest stockholder. He’s founder of the Global Benefits Group Foundation, which provides mirco-loans and other financial aid to individuals and businesses in developing countries.
The first-time candidate moved to Orange County in 1999 and to Villa Park in 2009. Villa Park is just outside Royce’s 39th Congressional District, which extends from Fullerton into Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Thorburn said that Royce represented the area until the latest redistricting took effect in 2012 and has long disagreed with him on key issues. While he believes both Royce and his current representative, Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Beach, both need to be replaced, he decided to run against Royce.
One factor may be the voter registration gap, as Republicans have a 9-percentage point advantage in Walters’ district and less than a 2-point edge in Royce’s.
“I think he’s vulnerable on that basis,” Thorburn said of Royce. “But he’s also better known in the district.”
Focal points of Thorburn campaign are holding corporate America accountable, women’s rights, voters rights, the environment and increasing the minimum wage — all areas where he says he parts ways with Royce.
While experts say there are both pros and cons to having so many Democrats in the race, Republicans are emphasizing the disadvantages.
“Andy Thorburn will need a lot more than a $2 million personal loan to navigate the increasingly fragmented and messy Democratic primary in this district,” said Jack Pandol of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “While Ed Royce continues to focus on outreach and fighting for his constituents, Democrats will be fighting each other in what looks to be one of the most bitter and expensive primary races in California.”
Thorburn said that he intends to spend all of his $2 million on the race — and raise another $1 million to $2 million — but that he listed the money as a loan in the event an illness or other unforeseen events force him to terminate the campaign. Because it’s listed as a loan, he’s able to return any unused portion to himself. Royce had $3.1 million in his account as of last month’s filings.
Thorburn was registered as an independent since 1999 until June 14, when he re-registered as a Democrat.
“I’ve been a liberal Democrat most of my life,” he said. He backed Hillary Clinton in last year’s primary. But he added that he voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s reelection as governor and that he’s not afraid to cross the aisle on some issues.
One other Democratic candidate — Cisneros — was an independent until 2015. Two others, Cisneros and Tran, lived outside the district when they launched their candidacies, but have either moved into the district or are in the process of moving
As originally posted on OC Register: