Thursday, June 19, 2014

McDonnell's Runoff Kickoff "Impressive" while Tanka Campaign Tanks

Although hopes have faded that the final tally of uncounted votes would push Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell's campaign past 50% plus one vote to win the primary outright, McDonnell kicked off his runoff campaign in an impressive way with a "thank you" reception at the Beverly Hills home of billionaire business magnet Ron Burkle.

More impressive than the setting for the reception was the turnout, with valet parkers hard pushed to keep pace with the numbers of McDonnell supporters who arrived eager to join in the celebration of McDonnell's crushing victory over distant second place finisher Paul Tanaka. It was a standing room only event as the crowd who had gathered to hear from McDonnell made the palatial home seem cramped. Out of respect for the host's wishes, the Dragnet will not publish photographs of the event, suffice it to say that there is only one word for the sheer size and quality of those supporting McDonnell; impressive. Law Enforcement, political, civic and business leaders from across the political spectrum were united in their support for LA's next Sheriff.

McDonnell's candidacy has soared as leading law enforcement groups united in their support of McDonnell; ALADS, the representative body of over 10,000 rank and file Deputy Sheriffs, announced their endorsement of McDonnell for Sheriff on Tuesday. Joining ALADS were:

  • Professional Peace Officers Association
  • Los Angeles Police Protective League
  • Long Beach Police Officers Association
  • Probation Supervisors Association
  • Los Angeles County Deputy Probation Officers Association (AFSCME Local 685)
  • Los Angeles Airport Police Officers Association
  • Los Angeles School Police Association
  • Los Angeles School Police Management Association
  • Baldwin Park Police Association
  • San Marino Police Association
  • Torrance Police Officers Association
  • Glendale Police Officers Association
With McDonnell poised to mount a robust campaign for the November 4, 2014 runoff election, the same cannot be said for rival Paul Tanaka, who remains mired in the scandals at the Sheriff's Dept. that occurred on his watch as Undersheriff.

Sources inform the Dragnet that Tanaka has not decided whether or not to run a campaign for the runoff, and has asked his inner circle to "take some time" to reflect on whether the devastatingly low number of votes cast for him in the primary might raise serious and embarrassing challenges to  fundraising. Tanaka out-raised McDonnell, yet received a drubbing on election night. It's an experience he is unlikely to want repeated, and withdrawing from the election might salvage what's left of his career in local politics.

Informed observers see Tanaka's predicament as somewhat similar to that facing former District Attorney Ira Reiner, who finished second to rival Gil Garcetti in the 1992 primary election. Reiner ultimately withdrew from the race, resulting in Garcetti winning the runoff with 82% of the vote. For an excellent and well researched analysis of the Reiner-Garcetti race, please read the Metropolitan News-Enterprise Perspectives column "Reiner, His Support Dwindling, Quits the Race."

Regardless of whether or when Tanaka quits the race, the reality for McDonnell is that he has to mount a campaign. He has to leverage the support he now enjoys not only from those who supported him in the primary, but that too of his challengers, nearly all of whom have pledged their support for McDonnell over Tanaka.

A potential problem for McDonnell may be convincing supporters to dip into their pockets and raise the kind of money it takes to run a countywide campaign. Some supporters may feel that with the size of McDonnell's victory in the primary, the runoff is a foregone conclusion and he doesn't need money. It may well be a foregone conclusion, but only if McDonnell can reach the voters in November in the same way that he did in June. And that takes money.

If the level of support McDonnell enjoyed at his reception Wednesday night can translate into a well-funded campaign, then expect history to repeat itself; McDonnell wins by 82% over Tanaka.


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