A new poll from Lewis Consulting shows that incumbent Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens is locked in a dead heat with challenger Bill Hunt, a retired sheriff deputy.
Hutchens polled at 21 percent, followed closely by Hunt at 20 percent in a sampling of 400 voters taken between April 23-26. However, like the Voice of OC/Probolsky Research poll taken early in the month, the Lewis poll indicates a large block of undecided voters.
The Lewis poll did not release the percentage of undecided voters, nor did it segregate numbers for Anaheim Deputy Chief Craig Hunter.
Although John Lewis, the former state senator who runs Lewis Consulting, is not releasing the full poll numbers, the results could be seen as indicative of the impact of independent expenditures on the race.
In the Voice of OC poll, Hunt's numbers were in the teens. But this past week, the Association of Deputy Sheriff's mailers went out. Red County linked to the mailers.
That, along with some recent press on Hunt due to the visit of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, might have moved the dial.
The Lewis poll also had some push questions probing the negatives of both Hutchens and Hunt.
When asked about a foreclosure Hutchens had in the mid-1990s, negative voter reactions soared. The same trend occurred when asked about problems Hunt had with the controversial sex trial of Greg Haidl, whose father was an Assistant Sheriff during the term of former indicted Sheriff Mike Carona.
Lewis concluded: "Given the closeness of this race coupled with the fundraising potential of both candidates and the issues that can be exploited this could be a particularly nasty election season leading up to the June primary."
-- NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.