COSTA MESA — Cops are known for sticking together, but apparently politics can divide them.
The California Statewide Law Enforcement Assn., which represents more than 7,000 public safety employees, has endorsed businessman Phu Nguyen over Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor, a former sheriff's deputy, in the race for the 68th District Assembly race, sources said Wednesday.
A formal announcement is expected to be made this week, though union officials confirmed the endorsement.
"Public safety and job creation are my top priorities," Nguyen, a Democrat, said. "It means a lot to have public safety's and law enforcement's support."
CSLEA spokesman Coby Pizzotti said Nguyen's business acumen in Orange County helped seal the deal.
"He meshed well with our ideals and beliefs," Pizzotti added." He was good on public safety, good on labor issues, a strong candidate overall."
This is Nguyen's first endorsement by a law enforcement union in the campaign.
Mansoor, a Republican, wasn't surprised that he didn't receive the union's endorsement. He didn't answer the union's questionnaire on the issues or show up for an endorsement interview with them.
"I strongly support the public's safety, but what unions are endorsing is not public-safety related," said Mansoor, an Orange County Sheriff's deputy for 16 years. "They're basically looking out for higher pay and benefits. That's what unions do. They don't look out for the taxpayer."
For his part, Mansoor said he opted out of the sheriff's department union near the end of his career there and stopped paying union dues because they endorsed political candidates who he didn't support.