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Sheriff Villanueva’s chances for second term dwindle as Luna’s lead holds strong

A man at a lectern kisses the forehead of a woman.
L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva embraces his wife, Vivian, during a news conference on Nov. 15 at the Hall of Justice in Los Angeles, where he detailed his accomplishments while conceding his race to Robert Luna.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
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With Robert Luna continuing to hold a commanding lead in the race for Los Angeles County sheriff, Alex Villanueva’s chances of winning a second term have all but vanished, election results show.

With 1.8 million ballots counted as of Monday evening, Luna has won 60% of the vote and Villanueva has received 40% — a gap that has remained relatively steady since the first batch of ballots were counted on election night last Tuesday.

While the exact number of outstanding ballots is not known, on Monday election officials estimated there were 655,300 ballots still left to count.

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To catch up to Luna, Villanueva would need to win three of every four of the remaining ballots. The likelihood of Villanueva mounting a comeback of that size is very low given that he has won only about four in 10 of the votes counted so far.

On Tuesday, the Sheriff’s Department announced that Villanueva planned to address the media at 2 p.m., fueling speculation that he might concede to Luna.

Support for Measure A, a ballot measure that would give the county’s Board of Supervisors the power to fire a sitting sheriff, also remained overwhelming, as the updated results showed almost 71% of voters in favor of it. The measure will pass if a majority of voters approve it.

Villanueva struggled to build momentum throughout the campaign. He finished first in the primary in June, but won only 31% of the vote — an underwhelming performance for an incumbent and not nearly enough to avoid a runoff against Luna, who finished second with 26% of the vote.

Luna, who headed the Long Beach Police Department for seven years before retiring last year, positioned himself during the campaign as the level-headed alternative to Villanueva and vowed he would work with the county elected officials Villanueva has vilified. He received the endorsements of all five county supervisors, and the sheriff candidates he beat in the June primary threw their support to him.

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