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Retired Lieutenant Who Forced Historic Run-Off Election Has Chance to Topple L.A. Sheriff Jim McDonnell

Retired Sheriff's Lt. Alex Villanueva, reflected in a mirror in this undated photo, forced L.A. Sheriff Jim McDonnell into a historic run-off despite spending virtually no money in the June primary. (Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Retired Sheriff's Lt. Alex Villanueva, reflected in a mirror in this undated photo, forced L.A. Sheriff Jim McDonnell into a historic run-off despite spending virtually no money in the June primary. (Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Few, if anyone, expected Alex Villanueva to make Los Angeles County election history.

The part-owner of a CrossFit gym was taking on Sheriff Jim McDonnell, one of the area’s most powerful local law enforcement figures who was elected four years ago by a landslide.

Villanueva had no professional campaign consultant, virtually no money and little name recognition.

But the retired sheriff’s lieutenant accomplished what political observers thought was nearly impossible: He forced the incumbent sheriff into a runoff, an event that’s happened only four times in the last century.

Read the full story on LATimes.com