It was a busy year, but a mixed one at the ballot box, for our 2006 consultant to watch, Forde & Mollrich.
F&M’s candidate lost the most expensive supervisor race in county history. But Larry Agran allies Beth Krom and Sukhee Kang won re-election to the Irvine City Council, likely ensuring that F&M will continue its consulting work for the Great Park.
F&M’s reputation for invincibility took a hit when Pat Bates won both a primary and runoff against its client Cassie DeYoung to claim the open South County supervisor seat.
DeYoung, mayor of Laguna Niguel, spent a staggering $4 million of her family’s money (nearly half of funneled through F&M, which in turn paid vendors). A hard-hitting direct mail blitz — an Arnold Forde trademark — couldn’t overcome the name recognition advantage of former assemblywoman Bates, who spent about $1.3 million. F&M stoked the South County opposition that killed the proposed El Toro airport. But the firm’s attempt to create a similar populist uprising over a proposed mountain tunnel—opposed by DeYoung, worth studying according to Bates—fizzled. F&M’s no-bid Great Park deal got scaled back. Contracts that generated $1 million a year in revenue expired in mid-2006. F&M is now being paid up to $353,000 for one year by the Great Park design team.
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