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Deputies Union Endorses Alex Villanueva for L.A. Sheriff, Boosting Upset Bid Against Jim McDonnell in November Election

Retired sheriff's Lt. Alex Villanueva, left, debates Sheriff Jim McDonnell on July 23, 2018. (Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Retired sheriff's Lt. Alex Villanueva, left, debates Sheriff Jim McDonnell on July 23, 2018. (Credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

The union representing rank-and-file Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies announced its endorsement Wednesday of upstart candidate Alex Villanueva, boosting his bid to upset Sheriff Jim McDonnell in a November runoff election.

Runoffs are rare in sheriff’s races, with incumbents usually enjoying sizable advantages in funding and name recognition. But Villanueva won 33% of the vote in the June primary while McDonnell fell short of the majority he needed to avoid a runoff in the nonpartisan race. McDonnell, a former high-ranking member of the Los Angeles Police Department and ex-Long Beach police chief, won 48% of the vote.

In announcing their endorsement, the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs said it believed Villanueva, a retired sheriff’s lieutenant, connected with fellow deputies in a way that McDonnell could not.

“It is our firm belief that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is in need of transformation, and that Villanueva is best suited to lead that change given his background, skills and character,” the union’s president, Ron Hernandez, said in a statement.

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