The latest results from the June 3 primary have made it official: There will be a Nov. 4 runoff between Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell and former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka in the race for Los Angeles County sheriff.
McDonnell fell just short of the 50-percent-plus-one needed to win outright, receiving 340,682 votes or 49.35 percent to Tanaka’s 104,192 or 15.09 percent. They were the top two out of seven candidates seeking to succeed scandal-plagued Sheriff Lee Baca, who resigned earlier this year.
Four of the former candidates — retired sheriff’s Cmdr. Bob Olmsted, Assistant Sheriff Jim Hellmold, Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers, and LAPD Senior Detective Supervisor Lou Vince — endorsed McDonnell shortly after the primary. Retired sheriff’s Lt. Patrick Gomez has not given an endorsement.
McDonnell’s endorsers, including The Los Angeles Times, say an outsider who is not part of any faction within the department is needed to carry out reforms. The newspaper also said Tanaka is “exactly the wrong person” to lead the department because of his alleged involvement in jail abuses as Baca’s second-in-command.
McDonnell campaign consultant Steve Barkan told The Times that his client is in an “extremely strong position” but “doesn’t take anything for granted.”
Tanaka, who is also mayor of Gardena, told The Rafu Shimpo on election night, “We were trying to deliver a message that as far as qualifications go there’s nobody even close, but the other candidates, none of them extolled their own virtues. All they did was rail on why I shouldn’t be sheriff. So obviously that had an impact on the voters, because if it was just qualifications, this race would have been over a long time ago.”
In a message to his supporters after the election, Tanaka said, “Now, we must redouble our efforts and remind them that the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department needs sensible, clear leadership and accountability — and someone ready to take the reins on Day One!”
Both candidates have received support from Asian American leaders.
McDonnell’s endorsers include LAPD Deputy Chief Terry Hara, Alhambra Police Chief Mark Yokoyama, former Manhattan Beach Police Chief Rod Uyeda, former Monterey Park Police Chief Jones Moy, Rep. Judy Chu, State Sen. Ted Lieu, Assemblymember Ed Chau, L.A. Community College District Board of Trustees member Mike Eng, Monterey Park Mayor Anthony Wong, former Monterey Park Mayor David Lau, Arcadia Mayor Pro Tem John Wuo, San Gabriel City Councilmembers Chin Ho Liao and Jason Pu, San Marino City Councilmember Richard Sun, Alhambra Unified School District Board President Bob Gin, Garvey School Board Vice President Henry Lo, Hacienda-LaPuente Unified School District Board member Jay Chen, and San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District Director Thomas Wong.
Tanaka’s endorsers include Alhambra Mayor Stephen Sham, San Marino Vice Mayor Eugene Sun, Diamond Bar City Councilmember Jack Tanaka, Rosemead City Councilmember Polly Low, Duarte City Councilmember Sam Kang, Temple City Councilmember Vincent Yu, Walnut City Councilmember Eric Ching, Monterey Park City Councilmember Mitchell Ing, Hawaiian Gardens City Councilmember Michiko Oyama-Canada, former Alhambra Unified School District Board President Sophie C. Wong, and former Assemblymember Warren Furutani.