A dark pall fell over the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Tuesday night with the news that Bob Lindsey failed in his bid to become sheriff and that the department may be saddled with four more years of Jim McDonnell, who is viewed by many as destroying the department through his mismanagement.
That was definitely the mood on election night when LASD.News was working the field. Deputies were in a state of shock and despair, unable to comprehend the emerging vote count. Many confidently asserted the count must have been rigged. Many said they didn’t know a single McDonnell supporter. One said they know knew how Hillary voters must have felt. Another deputy likened the mood inside LASD to that of a prison camp. There was talk of an “exodus” from LASD to other agencies which are aggressively recruiting, though the likelihood of this may be limited by non-compatible retirement programs.
“The results may have been ‘a double surprise’ for McDonnell, who appeared to be confident and more focused on his daily responsibilities than on his re-election campaign,” Jorja Leap, a UCLA professor affiliated with McDonnell told the Long Beach Press Telegram.
The Press Telegram continued: “Not only will there be a runoff in November but Villanueva also received one third of the vote, which is significant, Leap said. And this happened, she said, despite McDonnell’s past performance of calming the turbulence created by the previous administration of then-Sheriff Lee Baca and Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who were both sentenced in connection with a jail abuse and corruption scandal.”
LASD watchdog Surruo.com observed: “Now that the sheriff has a record he must defend until November, we are sure things are going to get bloody. Since Sheriff McDonnell can no longer hide from public debate as he has enjoyed to this point, we believe he will attempt to phony his way thru to November running on a record which has largely failed. One only needs to read the flaccid LA Times endorsement that pointed out McDonnell’s many failures to know this sheriff is vulnerable to defeat. To Alex, nobody understands how you made second place among opponents who out spent you by a tremendous margin, but you are clearly the only choice for sheriff. Don’t let us down.”
And indeed that seemed to be the direction of things Wednesday.
As the grieving process has moved forward, the focus has shifted to what next. What will Bob do? What will his large, enthusiastic team do? Was Villanueva’s surprise win a vindication of his campaign, or mainly his strong Democratic affiliation and non-Anglo Saxon last name? How will McDonnell respond to being in a runoff against someone six ranks his junior? How will Villanueva come off on that stage?
Though there are few answers Wednesday night, some hints are emerging.
Professional Peace Officer Association President Brian Moriguchi posted a video Wednesday promising that PPOA would aggressively vet both candidates and throw its financial resources behind its preferred candidate.
Meanwhile, deputies brought to LASD.News’s attention a photo posted to McDonnell’s Facebook page of ALADS President Ron Hernandez from 2014. This, of course, is noteworthy given Hernandez’ refusal to take a position on the primary election, despite deputies by 97% voting no confidence in McDonnell. ALADS did not appear to have made any statement about their intentions by Wednesday night.
In his own statement Wednesday, Villanueva seemed emboldened and confident:
“Considering the fact that Villanueva was outspent 50 to 1 by both his opponents combined, a forced runoff was a stunning upset for the embattled incumbent… Our message of ‘Reform, Rebuild, Restore’ resonated with the people of Los Angeles County,” Villanueva said (see below).
Lindsey also released a statement (also below), thanking his supporters.
In his post, Villanueva then extended an olive branch: “We appreciate the spirited campaign by Mr. Lindsey and his supporters contributions toward forcing the runoff. We both agree the Department requires a change in leadership now, a consensus confirmed by the voters.”
He concluded: “Thank you to all those who placed their faith in us and voted. And we hope by November, to earn the votes of those who did not. Again, thank you.”
McDonnell, by contrast, still had no statement posted to his campaign Facebook page by Wednesday night. Because he’s such a great leader…
We didn’t vote for Mr. Villanueva. And we encouraged you, Dear Reader, to vote for Bob Lindsey. That was then, this is now. Will Alex rise to the occasion? This is a promising, though early, start.