It takes a special kind of hubris to blow off the people on which you are the most dependent. To ditch the one that brung ya. Yet that’s exactly what Sheriff McDonnell did on Saturday when he UTH’d a debate of sheriff candidates hosted by the ACLU of Southern California, moderated by Frank Stoltze, who covers both politics and the Sheriff’s Department for National Public Radio station 89.3 KPCC. The event was held at East LA Community College.
Candidates Bob Lindsey and Alex Villanueva did show up, however, and debated serious issues for over an hour. The ACLU live streamed the debate (a common courtesy ALADS failed to extend to members or the public when candidates addressed it two week ago) and their recording is copied below. However, Bob Lindsey’s live stream had better audio and picture, so we are also including that.
You should definitely listen to the debate during your drive to work or something because important questions were asked, serious issues were discussed and real positions were taken. But, to us, the MAIN STORY is that McDonnell failed not just to show up, but to even complete the written questionnaire the ACLU sent him.
McDonnell not showing up is a really big deal because McDonnell ran four years ago on a platform of transparency and of improving relationships with the community, and he was heavily dependent on the support from LA’s more liberal, NPR-listening, ACLU-aligned community. And yet here he was showing absolute contempt for them (a feeling deputy sheriffs and many other constituencies already know far too well).
This is really bizarre behavior by McDonnell. He seems to assume voter apathy gives him a lock on reelection. That’s pretty shameful, undemocratic and pathetic behavior on its own. But beyond that, it’s mistaken.
Between Villanueva’s Democratic Party endorsements and (to be honest) Hispanic last name, and Lindsey’s strong electoral, financial and social media support from many communities (Hispanic, African American, faith, deputies and their families, pro 2A, the cannabis community, and many others), it’s hard to understand how McDonnell thinks he gets over 50% of the vote on June 5. It’s hard to understand how McDonnell thinks he gets over 30%. He isn’t Sherman Block, Leroy Baca, Peter Pitchess or Eugene Biscailuz. He’s been in the sheriff job for a minute, hasn’t gotten much of anything done, and people like him less than they used to. So, his actions here are telling.
McDonnell won three years ago competing against a felon with one foot aboard the bus to Englewood Federal Prison, he hasn’t been around long enough to have much name recognition, and his relations with key community groups have only worsened since then. In our analysis, it’s mainly just the LA establishment and the ACLU/KPCC left–the very folks he snubbed today. The folks already upset with him over aggressively failing to deliver the transparency he promised (note KPCC’s Repeat podcast and the LA Times lawsuit).
As the moderator Frank Stoltze put it, the Sheriff of Los Angeles County is a very important position. Far more important than the Los Angeles Chief of Police. The issues should be debated and the candidates should show up. Refusing to show up sends a message stronger than words.
Well, enough of our analysis. Listen for yourself. Here are the links.
From the ACLU
From Bob Lindsey’s Campaign