Assembly candidate Diep: what the heck is going on?

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It’s a mystery wrapped in a perplexity shrouded in an enigma.

Why the heck did Westminster Councilman Tyler Diep drop out of the race for the 72nd Assembly seat after out-fundraising all of his opponents, to the tune of $135,000?

His explanation to local media is that, and I’m paraphrasing here, that there was no longer a strategic advantage to running because two other Vietnamese-Americans – Garden Grove City Councilman Joseph Dovhin and OC Board of Education member Long Pham – are in the race.

Huh?

It’s a mystery wrapped in a perplexity shrouded in an enigma.

Why the heck did Westminster Councilman Tyler Diep drop out of the race for the 72nd Assembly seat after out-fundraising all of his opponents, to the tune of $135,000?

His explanation to local media is that, and I’m paraphrasing here, that there was no longer a strategic advantage to running because two other Vietnamese-Americans – Garden Grove City Councilman Joseph Dovhin and OC Board of Education member Long Pham – are in the race.

Huh?

Like many, many others, I read the initial reports and scratched my head.

Then, after chatting with him at a luncheon in Stanton, I gave him a follow-up call and asked – in my unrefined style – “Tyler, what the heck is going on? Can you break it down for us in plain English?”

He didn’t give me much.

“I’m not ready to start the life of a state legislator,” the 29-year-old said. “Where I have to be away from home a lot.”

Wait a minute. Do you have a wife? I asked. Nope. Children? Uh, no.

But he does have a fiancée, though he insisted that she had nothing to do with his decision.

OK, good enough. I’m not buying his story, but Diep is an effective councilman who, I’m sure, will continue to sway his colleagues on important matters concerning Westminster. But something’s going on that Diep is not disclosing to me, or other media types. And we’ll just have to live with it… for now.

Diep, who came to the states from Vietnam in 1991, was elected to the Westminster City Council in 2008 and quickly established himself as, to use a cliché, the strong, silent type. That is, he speaks carefully and deliberately and doesn’t leave much doubt about where he stands.

Clearly, he’s got aspirations for higher office, and I don’t think many folks were surprised that he was running for the seat in the 72nd District.

Oh, and about that $135,000. The money will now go to other candidates or to Diep’s own reelection campaign for the Westminster City Council. So I asked him: Is it fair to spend campaign money on your City Council run when folks donated it for your Assembly run?

“Sure, there will be some going to my City Council reelection,” Diep said, before adding that such maneuvering is commonplace in the world of politics:  transferring funds from one campaign to the other.

Pressed further on his reason for dropping out of the Assembly race, because I, skeptic that I am, was not buying his explanation, he admitted that his decision is a bit perplexing.

“I really don’t have an explanation,” he said.

Sure he does. I’ll stay on it and, and luck be with me, find out and let you know in some future version of this column.