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Alex Villanueva’s momentum continues in bid to replace Jim McDonnell as L.A. County sheriff

Alex Villanueva’s momentum continues in bid to replace Jim McDonnell as L.A. County sheriff
Alex Villanueva, a retired Los Angeles County sheriff's lieutenant, widened his lead over incumbent Sheriff Jim McDonnell. (Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

Riding on the support of late-arriving ballots, Alex Villanueva fattened his lead over incumbent Jim McDonnell on Friday in the election for Los Angeles County sheriff.

In the latest vote tally by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, Villanueva is ahead by almost 58,000 votes, with nearly 423,000 ballots left to be counted in a race that will be decided on provisional, conditional, miscellaneous and late absentee votes. Villanueva had 51.3% of the vote compared with McDonnell’s 48.7%.

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Villanueva declared victory Friday evening based on an analysis of the vote tally, but he has not received a call from McDonnell, said Villanueva’s spokesman, Danny Leserman.

McDonnell did not immediately respond to a request for comment. His campaign advisor, Steve Barkan, declined to make a statement about the latest total.

The race remains one of the last in California that is hinging on the last piles of ballots.

Villanueva, a retired sheriff’s lieutenant, has been buoyed in large part by Latino voters. He won an estimated 84% of the Latino vote, said Matt Barreto, a professor of political science at UCLA who also runs Latino Decisions, a polling and research firm.

Those results echo a Times analysis that found Villanueva did best in heavily Latino areas of the county, including Los Angeles, East L.A. and the east San Fernando Valley, while McDonnell carried the South Bay, coastal areas and northern parts of the county.

Barreto said he and his team predict Villanueva will be elected.

“It is clear that his lead is growing,” Barreto said. “The votes that remain to be counted could diminish his lead somewhat, but we do not believe there is any way he can lose at this point.”

The next vote totals will be announced Tuesday.

5:55 p.m.: This article was updated with the latest vote percentages.

This article was originally published at 5:25 p.m.

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