BY MARTIN WISCKOL
STAFF COLUMNIST
Published: March 7, 2014 Updated: March 8, 2014 7:52 a.m.

Over the years, the Orange County GOP has sometimes made it a point of pride to rally around an O.C. candidate in state Legislature districts that straddle county lines.

Not this time.

Assembly District 55 finds 47 percent of its voters in Orange County, 37 percent in Los Angeles County, and 16 percent in San Bernardino County. Incumbent Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, beat Orange County GOP entry Larry Dick when he was first elected in 2008, but will be leaving office because of term limits.

Yorba Linda Mayor Craig Young was preparing a campaign but changed his mind, leaving the field free of O.C. Republicans.

“We have excellent candidates in that district from outside of the county and two of those candidates have overwhelming support out of Orange County,” said Scott Baugh, chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County. “You don’t let your pride get in the way of a good outcome.”

Those two candidates are Walnut Valley schools trustee Phillip Chen and Diamond Bar Councilwoman Ling Ling Chang. Also filing papers to run are Diamond Bar Councilman Steve Tye, a Republican, and 2012 Democratic candidate for the seat, Gregg Fritchle of Covina. Neither Tye nor Fritchle had raised any money before the end of 2013.

Chen had $460,000 cash on hand at the year’s end and Chang had $276,000. Both totals include a $100,000 loan from the candidate.

Tran running

A potentially contentious and unusually lively race for the obscure state Board of Equalization receded back into the shadows when termed-out state Sen. Mark Wyland, R-Escondido, dropped out last month, easing the way for termed-out Assemblywoman Diane Harkey. But the possibility of a competitive race for the BOE’s 4th District was kept alive when former Assemblyman Van Tran, a Republican now living in Orange, followed through with his vow to file papers by Friday’s deadline.

The question now is whether he can quickly mount a fundraising campaign to catch up with the $224,000 in Harkey’s campaign account – and the $200,000 she has already invested in slate campaign mailers that will start hitting mailboxes as mail ballots go out.

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