McDonnell's decision is understood to have been made late last week, and delayed only while the former LAPD second in command, and current Long Beach Police Chief, put the final pieces of his campaign in place. McDonnell has secured the services of political strategist Parke Skelton, who expertly handled District Attorney Jackie Lacey's campaign. He is also understood to have secured key endorsements District Attorney Jackie Lacey and former District Attorney Steve Cooley, as well as a soon to be announced slew of endorsements from law enforcement and political leaders in Los Angeles County.
McDonnell's entry to the race is believed to be the "game changer" that had been rumored even before Sheriff Baca announced his retirement. The devastating news that 18 deputies had been indicted on the same day that Baca's downtown fundraiser flopped, increased pressure on McDonnell to throw his hat into the ring, and Baca's withdrawal ended any doubt that McDonnell could muster the support he needs to win election as LA County's next Sheriff.
The news of McDonnell's candidacy must come as a blow to former LASD Commander Bob Olmsted. With Baca out of the race, and his former second in command Paul Tanaka likely to withdraw his candidacy, Olmsted looked like the clear favorite. Olmsted has raised and impressive $250k from grassroots supporters, and retained Shallman Communications to handle his campaign. But with the media now likely to support McDonnell's candidacy, and the public perception that much needed change at the Sheriff's Dept must come from the outside, Olmsted's chances of doing better than second place in the run off looks dim. In a statement to the LA Times, Olmsted attacked McDonnell, labeling him as a political opportunist for jumping into the race after Baca dropped out. Olmsted will have to do better than that.
McDonnell, a 28 year veteran of the LAPD, before becoming Chief of the Long Beach Police Dept. in 2010, rose under former LAPD Chief Bratton's reign and, according the the LA Times, "was viewed as an ambassador who helped the department build bridges with the city's diverse communities and political leaders as Bratton's chief of staff and second-in-command."
With many hoping for a Bratton-like leader to replace Baca, McDonnell's candidacy could not be stronger. Bratton, who has not been shy to weigh in on political endorsements, could son become one of the many law enforcement leaders to support McDonnell for Sheriff and light up the race for Sheriff.