Disgraced former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka told Daily News reporter Rick Orlov that "he is still running for Los Angeles County Sheriff."
Tanaka had previously suspended his campaign by Tweeting this message to his supporter:
The Daily News, however, reported that "Tanaka closed down his main campaign office in Torrance and didn’t even inform his staff members. Tanaka said he simply moved the operation to El Monte and has continued to speak to groups that invite him. His most recent campaign reports show him with a deficit of $18,000."
Orlov further notes that "In talking with Tanaka, however, it appears he is still shell shocked over the way the election turned out." It's a shell shock of nuclear proportions. Tanaka "barely managed a second-place finish to [Long Beach Police Chief Jim] McDonnell to force a runoff election. With 49.4 percent of the vote, McDonnell fell just short of avoiding the runoff. Tanaka came in a distant second with 15.1 percent." Orlov reports.
Any hope that Tanaka may hold that enough of the votes that went to the five other primary candidates might go his way in the runoff is unlikely; all five have endorsed McDonnell. Faced with such overwhelming odds Tanaka had the opportunity to do the honorable thing and withdraw from the runoff. That would allow Jim McDonnell to concentrate his attention on his plans to bring much needed reforms to the the Sheriff's Department in the wake of Tanaka's prolific and rampant mismanagement.
But the word 'honorable' has not previously been seen in connection with Tanaka. Despite his assertions that the County Jail scandals were not his fault, "Peter Eliasberg, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California, said that while Tanaka has not been indicted of any wrongdoing, he was mentioned frequently in the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence for failing to act on problems when he oversaw the custody division. The report said he failed to act on reforms suggested to him as well as failed to act on reports of problems with groups of deputies." The Daily News reported.
In all likelihood Tanaka will struggle to poll as high as 15.1% on November 4. He is a largely forgotten figure in LA County politics. Raphael Sonenshein, executive director at the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State L.A., told the Daily News that "it appears to the public as if the Tanaka campaign has evaporated. 'You see this in other elections where an incumbent faces a light challenge, but in this one, he had a lot of money and an identified base of support that he was counting on,' Sonenshein said. 'When he did so badly in the primary, I think the rationale for his candidacy collapsed. After that, he had to keep a low profile.'"
That Jim McDonnell will be elected as LA County's next Sheriff seems certain, the only uncertainty is the magnitude of McDonnell's margin of victory. The larger it is, the more political capital he will carry when it comes to persuading the Board of Supervisors of the need to follow and support his plans to reform the Sheriff's Department.
In many ways McDonnell could find himself in the same position as former District Attorney Steve Cooley who in 2000, defeated incumbent Gil Garcetti by what the LA Times described as a "Wide Margin." Cooley won 63.8% of the vote in November 2000, giving him a clear mandate to implement reforms at the DA's Office without political interference. Perhaps one of Cooley's most politically 'sensitive' reforms was the establishment of the Public Integrity Division; the special unit tasked with investigating and prosecuting corruption by elected officials; no politician dared to publicly stand in Cooley's way over that reform, such was the power of the mandate Cooley held - "It was like the Turkey voting for Thanksgiving," one observer noted.
Despite McDonnell looking like a shoe-in in the November 4 runoff, he takes nothing for granted and continues to campaign as strenuously and tirelessly as he did in the primary. He has a major event scheduled for the end of the month, co-hosted by former DA Steve Cooley, and current DA Jackie Lacey. McDonnell's campaign website is www.McDonnellForLACountySheriff.com, Tanaka's is waiting for that endless summer to end.