Who Is Craig Hunter?

[Moxley Confidential] And can he get into a runoff in the sheriff's race by being more OC than Sandra Hutchens and less right-wing than Bill Hunt?

Hunter’s supporters say his three-decade ascension to Anaheim P.D.’s deputy chief proves he needs no sugar daddy to succeed. If you watch him in debates, as I have repeatedly, you’ll recognize his authoritative, dry oratory. Hunt is on fire at most events. Hutchens often looks like she’d rather be somewhere else. And Hunter, well, in comparison with Hunt, he admits he’s not a “rah-rah guy,” though he thoroughly enjoys refereeing high-school and college football games.

“I’ve been told that to win, I need to excite crowds like Bill does,” said Hunter. “But he’s stacking those crowds with his supporters. People come up to me after events and say, ‘We’re so glad you’re calm, and we love what you say.’ There is no comparison between us. He’s not even qualified to be a police chief or an assistant sheriff. When you put it in those terms, people get it.”

Though Hunter has a just-the-facts style, impressions that he’s cold-hearted crumble when you spend in-depth, one-on-one time with him. He’s got a good, self-deprecating sense of humor. He’s well-versed on intricate policing issues, and while he believes Hutchens is “a nice lady,” he thinks she’s “in over her head.” He’s proud that he’s in charge of daily police operations for one of the safest major cities in the nation. He doesn’t run from tough questions. In opposition to Hunt’s confrontational stances, he says, he’d use “the power of the badge to bring people together.” Unlike Hutchens, he readily concedes there is an “unfortunate” code of silence among inept and dirty law-enforcement officers. That’s an ironic statement according to his critics—among them the feisty Friends of Fullerton’s Future blog. But Hunter insists he’s faced only “two complaints in 32 years—including one from a man upset that his car was towed in the rain.”

According to Hunter, one fact should be paramount for voters: “There is no substitute for experience, and I have a proven track record at a preeminent law-enforcement agency.”

Entering the final stretch of the race, Hunter is confident he’s “in a good position.” If he’s mistaken, however, he’s got a prediction. “If it’s Hunt who makes the runoff [with Sheriff Hutchens], he’s going to get smoked,” he said. “People will spend a lot of money to make sure he doesn’t ever become sheriff. He would be terrible.”

rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com

This column appeared in print as "Who Is Craig Hunter? When the Mike Schroeder-supported candidate is not the fire-breathing right-winger on the ballot, you know you’re in for a wild, weird sheriff’s race."

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