Polls show LA County's Sheriff Villanueva behind in reelection bid

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Friday, November 4, 2022
Polls show Villanueva behind in sheriff's race
Alex Villanueva made history four years ago when he unseated the incumbent LA County sheriff - but that history may repeat itself this year.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Alex Villanueva made history four years ago when he became the first person to beat a Los Angeles County incumbent sheriff in more than 100 years. But now that he's the incumbent, there's a good chance it will happen again.

The latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies/LA Times poll shows Robert Luna continuing to pull ahead of Villanueva. The poll taken Oct. 25-31 finds Luna supported by 40% of likely voters to Villanueva's 32%. More than a quarter of those polled are still undecided.

Luna is the former Long Beach police chief and has led Villanueva in the polls over the past several months.

"Seventy percent of the voters in LA County voted in the primary to replace the sheriff and if elected, I will bring you leadership and accountability to the sheriff's department," Luna said at a news conference Thursday.

MORE | Robert Luna makes his pitch to be next LA County sheriff

One big difference between Robert Luna and Alex Villanueva, according to Luna, is that the current sheriff won't acknowledge there is a problem with deputy gangs.

Also on Thursday Villanueva held a news conference where he accused LA County District Attorney George Gascón of delaying the release of high-profile investigations, specifically to make the sheriff look bad.

"We are calling on the office of the (California) attorney general to actually start an investigation examining if or not the district attorney's been engaging in electioneering and using his office to influence the outcome of the election," Villanueva said at the event.

Eyewitness News reached out to the District Attorney's office about the sheriff's electioneering accusation. The DA's communications director called the charges lies and a media stunt.

"The families of those who have been killed or injured by law enforcement deserve better than to have their loved ones' cases be made into a media stunt on the eve of an election," wrote Tiffiny Blacknell, the communications director for Gascón.

During his four years in office, Villanueva has been a magnet for criticism from the LA County Board of Supervisors and has openly battled an oversight commission assigned to monitor his department. He's also been entwined in department scandals involving deputy gangs and accusations of covering up an excessive use-of-force case.

MORE | LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva explains why he deserves to keep his position

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says he deserves to keep his job despite a chorus of critics who say he not only shouldn't be re-elected, but that he should resign immediately. Marc Brown sat down with him and discussed crime, his approach to homelessness and the serious concerns about deputies involved in gangs.

During his campaign, Villanueva has painted himself as the unfair target of liberal politicians and activists. Thursday, he dusted off the recent election poll results as unreliable.

"You've got to realize the Times is going to spin it to their favor," he said.

Luna, for his part, is considerably less polarizing and has mostly struggled with low name recognition. He says he has a good working relationship with all of the county supervisors and will fix the current discord he says is rampant in the sheriff's department.

"It's completely dysfunctional and chaotic and it's negatively impacting the public safety of every resident of LA County," Luna told Eyewitness News.