Embattled L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva Losing By 20 Points In Early Vote Returns

c-title pmc-u-font-size-20 pmc-u-font-size-38@tablet pmc-u-font-size-46@desktop-xl u-text-align-center@mobile-max u-letter-spacing-0025 pmc-u-line-height-normal u-line-height-45@tablet pmc-u-padding-t-1 pmc-u-padding-t-050@mobile-max”>Embattled L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva Losing By 20 Points In Early Vote Returns

By Tom Tapp

Tom Tapp

Deputy Managing Editor

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November 8, 2022 11:09pm

Alex Villanueva
LASD via Facebook

Former Long Beach police Chief Robert Luna jumped out to a large early lead tonight in his bid to unseat incumbent Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Results from the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder showed Luna with nearly 60% of the roughly 1 million votes counted as of this evening, while Villanueva had roughly 40%. If that margin holds even by half, it would be a shocking fall for Villanueva who won office in the 2018 election cycle with a 53%-47% vote.

L.A. County Registrar-Recorder

That victory four years ago over incumbent Jim McDonnell marked the first time in roughly a century that a sheriff had lost a re-election bid in the county. Now Villanueva finds himself in danger of meeting the same fate at the hands of Luna.

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The pair have run a spirited campaign, with Luna attacking the incumbent over his broken relationship with the county Board of Supervisors and accusing him of ignoring the issue of deputy gangs within the department. Villanueva has deflected such criticism, saying his battles with the board show he is a fierce defender of the department and its deputies, and insisting that he has gone to great lengths to attack and ban alleged deputy cliques in the agency.

“There is nothing legally we can do left,” Villanueva has claimed. “We can’t line up people, strip them down and fire people with tattoos, as some people have literally suggested. So when my opponent falsely asserts that nothing has been done, he’s just repeating the narrative politically driven by the Oversight Commission that works for the board.”

But voters may be siding with the board.

A ballot measure that would give the Board of Supervisors the authority to remove a publicly elected sheriff from office for cause was headed for victory tonight, earning a massive 71% “Yes” vote from the roughly 900,000 votes tallied thus far, according to the

L.A. County Registrar-Recorder

The Board of Supervisors voted in August to place Measure A on the ballot, calling it an effort to ensure accountability in the county’s law- enforcement agency. But incumbent Sheriff Alex Villanueva has blasted the proposal as unconstitutional, calling it a blatant power grab by a board with which he has repeatedly clashed.

Villanueva’s victory four years ago came with strong backing from reform-minded community groups and Democrats. But over the past four years, Villanueva’s support among those groups has waned as he repeatedly clashed with the Democrat-dominated Board of Supervisors over funding and policy matters. He
has also repeatedly defied subpoenas to appear before the Civilian Oversight Commission and refused to enforce the county’s Covid vaccination mandate among his deputies and department employees.

Luna has argued during the campaign that the sheriff’s department is being “mismanaged” by Villanueva and said he will work to restore trust in the agency. He also touted his position as an outsider with no connections to the sheriff’s department.

“Growing up in East Los Angeles, patrolled by the sheriff’s department, opened my eyes to examples of both good and bad policing, and inspired my 36-year career in law enforcement,” Luna said in a candidate statement.

He said he will work to “modernize” the sheriff’s department and its jail system and improve the mental well-being of deputies and employees.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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