As late ballots continue to be tabulated, Alex Villanueva widened his lead over Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.
In the latest update, Villanueva had opened up a 58,000 lead on McDonnell.
There were still 423,000 ballots left to be counted in the race.
“With a lead of nearly 58,000 votes, we can finally say that there’s a #NewSheriffInTown,” Villanueva tweeted on Friday. “We owe it all to our volunteers and everyone who supported our campaign. Now the work really begins as I prepare to hit the ground running on day one as your new Los Angeles County Sheriff!”
McDonnell has not yet conceded the race. If Villanueva wins, he would be the first person to unseat an incumbent sheriff in 100 years.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Villanueva has benefitted by a wave of Latino voters.
Villanueva may owe his stunning performance to the political divide that has swept the nation. In several mailers he connected McDonnell to President Donald Trump, who is extremely unpopular in California.
One mailer featured a black-and-white photo of McDonnell with a photo of Trump in the background. The campaign piece also pointed out that sheriffs met with Trump in the Oval Office and quoted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who called the office of sheriff “a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement.”
Villanueva has vowed to kick Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents out of LA County jails.
Villanueva retired from the department in February after more than 30 years on the job. He last worked as a watch commander for the sheriff’s Pico Rivera station, overseeing station deputies. He has never held a command position inside the department.
McDonnell, the former chief of Long Beach police and a 29-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, was elected in a landslide four years ago, pledging reform in the wake of a jail abuse and corruption scandal that led to the conviction of dozens of deputies and some of the top brass, including former Sheriff Lee Baca and former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka.