It’s a consequence of today’s media echo-chamber that we mostly hear opinions we agree with and we have the freedom to mute those we don’t. And so it was after last month’s primary election that everybody had got it wrong.
Supporters of Jim McDonnell thought he’d coast to an easy re-election. In fact, McDonnell told as much to KFI host Tim Conway the day before the primary. Sure, his performance over the last three years has disappointed almost everyone, and sure most people at LASD despise him and he doesn’t have the credibility to lead a gaggle of ducks, and sure his claim to have abracadabra’d a “sea change” in LASD’s culture is nonsense belied by the facts, and sure crime has gone up and he hides stuff from the community, and sure he’s incredibly arrogant and spends lavishly on himself and vanity projects, and sure he’s blown the budget and a bunch of deputies and professional staff have gone to jail for sex crimes and serious felonies on his watch, and sure we’re hearing the OIG recently issued a report deeply critical of the lack of reform in LASD’s tailspinning Custody Division, and sure he’s been revoking CCWs from retirees injured on duty and destroyed the Reserve program, and sure he’s a conservative white guy in a time when progressive electorates are shying away from conservative white guys, and sure he took the public’s trust for granted and ran a half-assed campaign … BUT he had nearly $600K in donations from rich LA City establishment types in the bank, and a Boston accent after four decades in LA, and the media said incumbent sheriffs don’t lose, and it was a LOCK. And then McDonnell, who received 75% of the vote three years ago, and possibly the least explicable or enthusiastic LA Times endorsement in history, came in at 47%. Against two LASD veterans he was too arrogant to debate.
Bob Lindsey’s team also felt confident. Many say they don’t know a single person who voted for McDonnell. After six months of full-time campaigning and nearly $800,000 in donations, Lindsey stunned many with a significant though disappointing 18% of the vote.
And then there was the dark-horse: Alex Villanueva. With just $27,000 in donations and a minimal campaign, Villanueva walked away with 33% of the vote. Many experts close to the other campaigns assumed he’d get 3-6%; 12% tops.