NORWALK (CBSLA.com) — The top two vote-getters in Tuesday's primary election for Los Angeles County sheriff are preparing for a runoff in November.
Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell and former LASD undersheriff Paul Tanaka are moving full-speed ahead even though uncounted absentee and provisional ballots are still being processed.
"Our current estimate now, and we'll know more later this evening, is somewhere around the spectrum of 170,000 ballots that we'll still be processing, going over and preparing to count over the next couple of weeks," Efrain Escobedo of the L.A. County Registrar's Office said.
McDonnell, however, is still hoping that the uncounted ballots could push him over the 50 percent threshold to give him the win.
"You know, I'm hopeful. I've been told that the significant pool of absentee ballots haven't been counted yet, so we'll see what happens on that. But I'm focusing on the runoff," he said.
McDonnell said there are clear differences between him and Tanaka.
"The department has been in crisis for some period of time. My competitor in this case has been part of that. I think that's been born out in the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence...we've heard in the past week about him being a subject of a federal investigation," he said.
In a written statement, Tanaka said, "I look forward to a spirited campaign with Chief McDonnell focused on the most pressing public safety issues facing Los Angeles County and our visions for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. This campaign is far from over; in fact, it's just begun."
Meantime, KCAL9's Dave Bryan reports that Tanaka didn't exactly welcome the media with open arms at his election party Tuesday night.
Two reporters were seen in a photo struggling to take cellphone pictures of Tanaka's gathering at a restaurant in Gardena.
Reporters also took to Twitter to let out their frustrations.
Gene Maddaus of L.A. Weekly wrote, "Just got thrown out of the Paul Tanaka party. Tempers flared. Apparently no media allowed inside."
KNX 1070's Claudia Peschiutta said, "Don't think I've ever heard of a candidate keeping reporters out of an election night party. Ever."
for more features.