Answer.com defines the word politics (as a verb) as follows: “Intrigue or
maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or
The state Senate and state Assembly are inherently political bodies. You
need to understand and be able to practice the science of politics to get
elected to them. And then you need to be able to put into practice the art
of politics to achieve public-policy objectives once you get there.
In order to be the most effective state legislator, you must have a material
impact on the politics inside of the Capitol and also play a key role in the
process of increasing your party’s representation in the Legislature. A key
component to being this ‘most effective legislator’ is to hire, and re-hire
politically savvy employees in your capitol and district offices. But it is
also important to deploy these staffers out into the realm of campaigns as
well, so that they, and you, can make a difference.
If I had to pick a member of the state Legislature who totally “gets it”–who
understands the importance of hiring legislative staff members that
understand and have had practical experience in politics, and who hires
staff members that are willing to take a leave of absence from their
government duties to go out and get such experience–it would definitely be
Orange County Republican Assemblyman Van Tran.
Tran himself has a history of working on campaigns, and also in the offices
of former-Congressman Bob Dornan and former-state Senator, now Congressman
Ed Royce. Perhaps his own experiences have taught him the wisdom of
providing the same kind of experience for his own staff.
Here are some examples of how’s Tran’s legislative staff also is engaged in
the contact-end of politics. His chief of staff, Paul Hegyi, is currently
working as the campaign manager for Tony Strickland in his bid for state
controller. Last year, he took a leave to be the onsite manager for the lead
GOP candidate in a targeted Assembly seat. Barrett Tetlow, his district
director, is on leave right now, having taken on a leadership role as a
field director with the state GOP’s “Victory ’06” program.
But wait, there’s more. Tran’s scheduler, David Titus (no relation to
retired Sen. Rico Oller’s former chief of staff), left to work with a GOP
congressional candidate down in San Diego, and is now working on an Assembly
campaign. Truong Diep, who was a full-time field representative in Tran’s
district office, now splits his time, also working on Tran’s re-election
campaign. Daisy Tong, who was a field representative, is now in political
consulting and works on voter-registration programs. Also, former Tran
intern Michael Johnson went to work in the San Diego mayoral special
election, and now works for the campaign of Joel Anderson, a GOP candidate
for the 77th Assembly District.
While Tetlow is on leave from his district director post, Tran hired a
temporary replacement–from the political scene–Dave Everett, who had been
serving as executive director of the Riverside County Republican Party, thus
expanding his cache of loyal political operatives.
Van Tran gets it. He understands that achieving a majority and making policy
gains are political goals, and that to achieve those goals you need to have
well-trained, experienced people around you–people that understand how
government works and, if not more importantly, how things work in the world
The expertise that Tran is building up amongst his own team provides a
resource to help Assembly Republicans better their lot and also enables him
to have a more meaningful impact in helping to elect to public office people
who share his political philosophy.
Every member of the Legislature, whether Republican or Democrat, should
learn from Tran’s example. When I call a legislative office to speak with
someone and I hear they are on leave working for a campaign or a cause, I
smile and think to myself, “This legislator understands the system and is
going to make a difference.”