Former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna stretched his lead Monday as vote-counting continued in his bid to unseat incumbent Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
According to updated vote totals released Monday, Nov. 14, by the county Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office, Luna had a lead of 324,837 votes, up from 259,184 when the last update was released on Saturday, Nov. 12. The results from last Tuesday’s election currently stand at 987,730 votes for Luna, or 59.8%, and 662,893 for Villanueva, or 40.2%.
“So far, the returns look good, and our campaign has a significant lead,” Luna said in a statement last Wednesday as initial results were being released. “And I believe that as more votes are counted in the days ahead, I’ll continue to maintain a lead in this race. L.A. County voted for change, and if I’m elected sheriff, I’ll bring new leadership, accountability and effective strategies to reduce crime.” Luna is looking to pull off a rare feat by unseating a sitting sheriff.
Villanueva’s 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. But now Villanueva finds himself in danger of meeting the same fate at the hands of Luna. The sheriff expressed confidence, however, that he would make up the deficit from early balloting as vote counting continued over the coming week.
“Let’s see what the vote says,” he told KCAL9 at his Monterey Park election night party Tuesday. “… I think people just want to see the things that matter to them addressed — homelessness and violent crime.”
The candidates ran a spirited campaign, with Luna attacking the incumbent over his torrid 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.
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. Villanueva has also repeatedly defied subpoenas to appear before the Civilian Oversight Commission and refused to enforce the county’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate among his deputies and department employees. Villanueva’s campaign insists he has worked to restore public trust in the sheriff’s department, pointing to the rollout of body-worn cameras and boosting minimum requirements for new deputies. The campaign also boasts the agency is “the most diverse in the nation.”
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. Luna said he will work to “modernize” the sheriff’s department and its jail system and improve the mental well-being of deputies and employees.
Previous related story: Luna leads in battle for LA County Sheriff, but vote counting continues