Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas will face county Supervisor Todd Spitzer in the November general election, with Rackauckas ending election night with a 4.2 percent lead over his competitor.
Rackauckas maintained a tight lead over Spitzer by the end of election night, with 39.4 percent of votes compared to 35.3 percent for Spitzer, according to results posted by the Registrar of Voters at 1:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Democrat Brett Murdock, a former mayor of Brea, received 21.6 percent while Democrat Lenore Albert-Sheridan, a consumer attorney, received 3.8 percent of votes.
Because all ballots postmarked on Election Day will be counted, it will take the Registrar at least another three days after June 5 to tally all the votes and finalize the election.
Tuesday’s election was a key test for the District Attorney’s office, which faced growing accusations of cronyism and misconduct in recent years, especially as a number of criminal prosecutions were derailed by illegal misuse of jailhouse informants.
The election also was a pivotal moment in a personal and political rivalry between the two Republicans.
Spitzer, Rackauckas’ former protege, was fired from the DA’s office in 2010, setting off a years-long feud between the two politicians.
While Rackauckas enjoyed support from a broad array of Orange County Republican elected officialsm Spitzer out-fundraised his opponent, boasting a campaign war chest of more than $978,000 at the end of May. Rackauckas ended that same period with $18,101 in the bank and more than $48,000 in debt.
Spitzer spent thousands of dollars on mailers and campaign ads focusing on the informant scandal and other allegations against Rackauckas, hoping to convince voters he would lead an honest and accountable prosecutor’s office.
In a statement released early Wednesday morning, Spitzer called the results a “terrible blow for Rackauckas.”
“Undoing a 20-year incumbent is a David vs. Goliath scenario – one we will achieve in November through our strong and persistent campaign,” Spitzer said in the statement. “The people have spoken – anyone but Tony. Tired Tony needs to retire.”
Representatives for Rackauckas’ campaign could not be immediately reached early Wednesday morning.
The two democrats in the race, both former candidates for state and national office, also campaigned as reformers, although they spent far less than Spitzer.
Murdock, who was endorsed by the Democratic Party, ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress in 2016 against Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton). Albert-Sheridan previously ran for the 72nd state Assembly District in 2016 against Travis Allen.
Albert-Sheridan was suspended by the California State Bar in February and her license to practice law was reinstated last week, effective March 16.
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