In race for sheriff, Jim McDonnell has early lead in absentee ballots

Jim McDonnell has early lead in L.A. County sheriff's race

In the race for Los Angeles County sheriff, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell has taken the lead in the early absentee vote tally.

Retired undersheriff Paul Tanaka was second, retired sheriff's commander Bob Olmsted third and Asst. Sheriff James Hellmold fourth, according to the Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's website, with absentee ballots partially counted.

Polls closed at 8 p.m.

The race is considered one of the most important in the history of the Sheriff’s Department. Longtime Sheriff Lee Baca abruptly retired in January, a month after federal criminal charges were filed against 18 current and former sheriff's deputies accused of beating jail inmates or trying to obstruct the FBI in an investigation into the county’s jail system.

For the last century, voters have elected a sheriff from inside the department. But in this election, even some insiders in the seven-man field positioned themselves as outsiders.

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