Jim McDonnell is the police chief of Long Beach, but his support for sheriff flows from his 29 years at the LAPD, including several years advising Chief Bill Bratton. He also was a member of the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence. McDonnell flirted last year with a run against Sheriff Lee Baca, but decided against taking on the incumbent. Without Baca in the race many expected McDonnell would run — and today he announced that he would indeed get in the race.
McDonnell is getting in late from a fundraising perspective, but he comes with a head start on endorsements. McDonnell's announcement lists backers that include LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, District Attorney Jackie Lacey (and former DAs Steve Cooley and John Van de Kamp), City Attorney Mike Feuer, Supervisor Don Knabe, ex-police commissioner Rick Caruso and more. If the job was being filled by the best law enforcement officer available, like LAPD's top job might, McDonnell would be in the conversation. He was on the short list for LAPD chief a couple of times, actually. But here we elect a sheriff, and so a free-for-all political campaign will decide who runs the biggest local law enforcement agency in California.
McDonnell's campaign is being managed by the veteran campaign consultant Parke Skelton and his partners, Steve Barkan and Mike Shimpock. The SG&A team had handled Baca's campaigns in the past and in 2012 ran Rep. Brad Sherman's successful defeat of Howard Berman in the Valley. Skelton also went way back with Antonio Villaraigosa.
From LASD watcher Celeste Fremon at Witness LA:
Right now, the candidates that McDonnell will face in the race include former LASD commander and department whistleblower, Bob Olmsted, whose testimony before the jail commission was considered to be significant. Olmsted is represented by veteran campaign consultant, John Shallman, a heavy hitter who has upped Olmsted’s media presence considerably.
Former LASD undersheriff Paul Tanaka is also in the race and, prior to McDonnell’s entry, has the most name recognition in the field, much of it laden with controversy.
LASD’s Pat Gomez, who has run for the position twice before, is a candidate, along with the LAPD’s Lou Vince, whose twitter commentary has been a smart and lively presence in social media since the race began.
Most recently, LASD Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers announced his candidacy last Tuesday after Baca’s retirement announcement. That same day, Assistant Sheriff Jim Hellmold said he too was considering a run, but was undecided. (Sheriff Baca gave both Hellmold and Rogers his backing near the end of his Tuesday press conference.
Hellmold is reportedly planning to announce his candidacy later this week.
Olmsted's campaign sent out this reponse to the McDonnell news:
The only thing I didn't hear in Jim McDonnell's announcement was 'thank you' for my efforts to take out Lee Baca; creating the environment for political opportunists like McDonnell to run. I'm proud to have worked with federal authorities to expose corruption in the Sheriff's department and taking a stand when no one else, including McDonnell, would do so. I am disappointed that McDonnell's first decision as a candidate is to hire Lee Baca's political team of advisors. LA County voters can't afford to put another politician into the Sheriff's office. We need a tough, independent law enforcement professional with the courage to stand up against corruption and to fight for our taxpayers and our most vulnerable citizens--not the politicians.
Photo of McDonnell: Everything Long Beach