Luna is running for Los Angeles County sheriff as the anti-Villanueva. Will it work? I don’t know. It certainly hasn’t yet. But when it comes to the race to succeed Sheriff Lee Baca, it certainly looks like it could backfire.
The most recent polls show Villanueva holding a double-digit lead. If she were somehow able to beat him in the primary, she would become the first Latino sheriff elected in Orange County in the Los Angeles County sheriff’s history. She would also become the first woman to serve as sheriff in L.A. County.
Luna, on the other hand, could barely hold on to her narrow primary win. She is getting hammered — badly.
Villanueva, the mayor of a city of about 18,000 people, is a very charismatic political boss who has been in elective office at least since 1996. He is popular as mayor because he does what his voters want to hear in a Democratic mayor. He is popular as sheriff because he does what his voters want to hear in a Democratic sheriff. He talks about social justice and is an effective sheriff for doing what his voters want to hear about how to clean up the streets while holding the line on crime and gang violence.
Luna, the first Latina elected to the Sheriff’s Department in six years, has been under a cloud of scandal since she took office in June. And she is getting hammered by her critics: the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Daily News, and the LA Progressive, to name a few.
Luna’s problem is that she’s a bit of a mess.
I interviewed her at length to see if she could take on Villanueva. We talked mostly about her recent problems and her plans for moving forward. She sounded sincere and genuinely remorseful.
She was the deputy mayor for the city of Long Beach, which is the sixth largest in the nation in terms of population.