Dennis Mangers, a former lawmaker who represented Orange County’s 73rd Assembly District for two terms, was elected in 1976 — swept to power in a Democratic wave that followed the Watergate scandals.
But the district reverted to form in 1980 when Mangers lost his seat to Republican Nolan Frizzelle — a loss attributable in part to President Jimmy Carter, who announced his defeat for reelection before the polls closed in California at 8 p.m. Political observers believe the early concession discouraged Democrats from voting, and a number of Democrats lost their seats on the West Coast.
But times are changing in Orange County, which handily voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 — the first Democratic presidential candidate to capture Orange County since FDR in 1936. This month, in Mangers’ old stomping ground, Democrat Harley Rouda defeated veteran GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
We sat down with Mangers to chat about the changes that have turned Orange County blue (or maybe purple) and about life after elected office. These days Mangers, a former lobbyist and president of the California Cable & Telecommunications Association, is an adviser to Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and is busy supporting the nonprofit Dennis Mangers Fund for Young Performing Artists.