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LA sheriff's race: Ridley-Thomas, other black leaders endorse McDonnell

McDonnell for Sheriff campaign

In another sign of his growing campaign strength, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell secured the endorsement of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on Wednesday.  All five members of the Board of Supervisors now back McDonnell over former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka.

"Chief Jim McDonnell has the integrity and foresight to lead the Sheriff's Department into a new era of transparency and success," Ridley-Thomas said in a statement.

Prominent African American leaders joined Ridley-Thomas at a morning news conference at the Southern Missionary Baptist Church in the West Adams District.

McDonnell understands the balance between "protecting the rights of our residents while ensuring the safety of our families," said Pastor Xavier Thompson, President of the Baptist Ministers Conference in Los Angeles.​

McDonnell said he was proud to have the support of Ridley-Thomas. 

"I look forward to working together to find ways that we can protect our neighborhoods and help our children and families thrive."

Paul Tanaka did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The former undersheriff faces an uphill battle in the November runoff.  He garnered 15 percent of the vote in the Primary Election. McDonnell won 49 percent in the seven-person contest. Four of the five other candidates now back McDonnell. Patrick Gomez has not endorsed anyone.

Tanaka has faced scathing criticism by sheriff watchdogs. The Citizens Commission on Jail Violence sharply criticized him for condoning or failing to address violence inside LA County Jails. He also remains the subject of a federal investigation into jail violence. Tanaka has denied any wrongdoing.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated who Patrick Gomez was endorsing, while Gomez has yet to make an endorsement. KPCC regrets the error.