Todd Spitzer — a longtime rival of Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas — on Monday announced his campaign for district attorney in the 2018 race.
The announcement has been more than a decade in the making and sets up one of Orange County's most anticipated political battles. Spitzer had mentioned running for the seat as early as 2006.
Spitzer's challenge comes during a tumultuous time for Rackauckas' office, which has been rocked by an ongoing scandal involving the use of jailhouse snitches and a steady stream of headlines about prosecutorial misconduct and overturned criminal cases. The state attorney general's office and U.S. Department of Justice are investigating the matter.
Rackauckas, who has been district attorney for nearly 20 years, has also been dogged by allegations of cover-ups and corruption from his former chief of investigations and two investigators currently working in the office. All three recently filed claims against the district attorney's office.
Spitzer, a county supervisor and former state assemblyman, has seized on the pattern of scandal as reason why it's time for him to replace Rackauckas.
"I refuse to stand by as Tony Rackauckas destroys the District Attorney's office and uses it as his own personal fiefdom for he and his cronies while the public's safety suffers," Spitzer said in a news release. "I'm proud to announce my campaign for District Attorney and pledge to always uphold the rule of law, put people's safety first and work tirelessly to make certain justice is served for victims and their families."
In an emailed statement, a campaign consultant for Rackauckas, Dave Gilliard, said:
"Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is proud to run on his record of keeping local citizens safe and proud of the fact that he is supported by the county's law enforcement and crime victim leaders as well as the major elected officials who know both candidates."
3:15 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from Rackauckas' campaign consultant.