A new round of election results released Thursday show Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva continuing to trail badly against his opponent, Robert Luna, leaving his bid for reelection in jeopardy.
The new ballot count shows Villanueva trailing Luna 42% to 58% with more than 1.3 million votes tallied. It is unclear how many ballots are left to be counted and when the tally will be completed.
Support for Measure A, a ballot measure that would give the county’s Board of Supervisors the power to fire a sitting sheriff, also remained strong, as the updated results showed 69% of voters in favor of it. The measure will pass if a majority of voters approve it.
Villanueva struggled to build momentum throughout the campaign. He finished first in the primary in June, but won only 31% of the vote — an underwhelming performance for an incumbent and not nearly enough to avoid a runoff against Luna, who finished second with 26% of the vote.
Luna, who headed the Long Beach Police Department for seven years before retiring last year, positioned himself during the campaign as the level-headed alternative to Villanueva and vowed he would work with the county elected officials Villanueva has vilified. He received the endorsements of all five county supervisors, and the sheriff candidates he beat in the June primary threw their support to him.
If Luna prevails, he would take the helm next month of a large, unwieldy agency that patrols large swaths of the sprawling county and has been buffeted by years of instability and turnover in the top post. He would be its fourth sheriff since former Sheriff Lee Baca resigned eight years ago amid a federal corruption probe that ultimately sent him to prison.
The department has been under heavy scrutiny over a steady stream of scandals, many of which erupted during Villanueva’s watch and others that predate him.
There is, for example, an ongoing investigation by the state attorney general’s office into potential civil rights abuses by sheriff’s deputies and another by the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission into gang-like groups of deputies that operate in the department.
In another county race, state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) retained his slight lead over West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath in the race to become Los Angeles County Supervisor representing the 3rd District. The current count put Horvath behind Hertzberg by half a percentage point.