The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS) announced today that Bill Hunt, a challenger to appointed Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, has overwhelmingly won the powerful union's endorsement for the June election.
According to the AOCDS vote tally, Hunt captured more than 50 percent of the vote. Hutchens took almost 28 percent. The other challenger, Craig Hunter
--Anaheim's deputy police chief--snared 12 percent.
It's not a surprising outcome because Hunt rose from the rank of file of the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) for more than two decades and became a lieutenant. In that role, he served as a popular police chief in San Clemente. In 2006, Hunt challenged the lack of ethics of his then-boss, Sheriff Mike Carona. After the election, Carona demoted Hunt for speaking out against him. But the FBI and IRS arrested Carona and a federal jury convicted him on a corruption charge.
The county's Board of Supervisors appointed Hutchens, a longtime, high-ranking Los Angeles County Sheriff's official who had retired, to complete Carona's term in office. Hutchens inherited a department in shambles. She has repeatedly claimed that she has "turned the department around."
And sure enough, in comparison with Carona: we can say confidently that she's not partying in Newport Beach bars with slimy Las Vegas mobsters and titty bar owners, or giving wealthy businessmen real badges in exchange for private jet rides.
But the lack of support from her own employees after just 21 months in office has to sting.
For his part, Hunter today told the OC Register's Tony Saavedra that the AOCDS endorsement was never important to his campaign. Indeed, Hunter has agreed with Republican Party bosses to shun all union support.
This afternoon, Hunt could not mask his satisfaction.
"This endorsement is huge," Hunt told me. "These are people who know the sheriff's department the best. They know what's missing in terms of leadership and obviously they think I'm best qualified to be the next sheriff of Orange County. I'm really excited."
Hunt also said he has been invited to speak at a national gun rights rally in Washington, D.C. next month.
Last year, Hunt's campaign stirred controversy in progressive circles by seeking and winning the support of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, one of the nation's leaders on using law enforcement resources to find and deport illegal immigrants from Mexico. In a South County speech today to a Republican group, Hunt continued to praise Arpaio as an inspiration. He called him the "preeminent law enforcement official in the country right now."
-- R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly