The triumph of LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva in 2018 has got to be one of the biggest blunders by the Los Angeles Democratic Party. With the party’s endorsement, he became the first person to unseat a sitting LA sheriff in more than a century. Since then, he has sparred with progressive leaders and the media, defended officers at all costs, engaged in dubious ethical practices, taken a hardline stance on homelessness and cannabis, and refused to enforce coronavirus health measures. And as his next election nears, he’s tacking even further right.
Republicans are quite pleased with the way it has all turned out. But Democrats, who represent the majority in this county, can’t wait to see him go. Already, two have stepped up to say they’ll challenge the sheriff in 2022.
LA County Sheriff’s Chief Eliezer Vera announced his candidacy in April. More recently, LAX Police Chief Cecil Rhambo has thrown his hat into the ring. Rhambo used to be the assistant sheriff of LA County. He is also the former city manager of Carson.
“Sheriff Alex Villanueva is the Donald Trump of L.A. County,” Rhambo declares in his first campaign video. Rhambo’s ad hits on the problem of deputy gangs inside the LASD and surging crime rates in LA County. An image of Villanueva alongside Trump and imprisoned ex-sheriff Lee Baca is shown (Rhambo was Baca’s number two).
Rhambo, who is part Asian and Black, said he’s “fed up with the corruption that is plaguing LASD” and wants to see more equity in the criminal justice system.
“From standing up to corrupt former Sheriff Lee Baca to banning the chokehold at LAX, I have worked to advance justice and do the right thing,” he tweeted.
You can expect more candidates to enter the field in the coming months. The primary for LA’s sheriff isn’t until next June.