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Alex Villanueva thought his ‘Quien es más Latino?’ technique would sink his opponent. Nope

Robert Luna confirmed as much as his debate with Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on the Skirball Middle 2½ hours early. The challenger confirmed up so early that the safety guard didn’t have the VIP parking record but. The tech folks within the auditorium had been nonetheless doing audio checks.

Luna walked to his inexperienced room — a closet in contrast with Villanueva’s spacious suite two doorways down. His footsteps echoed by the vacancy of the Skirball’s courtyard. That’s after I observed Luna’s footwear.

They had been brown, with thick white soles, and seemed like off-brand Prime-Siders. Center-aged, middle-class Latino males over the past decade have favored these once they need to class up their look however don’t have the cash or hipster trend sense to purchase one thing fancier.

“I grew up poor,” the retired Lengthy Seaside police chief defined. “If I ever spend greater than $100 on one thing, I instantly really feel like I did one thing improper.”

He seemed to his spouse, who wore a “Luna for Sheriff” marketing campaign button.

“The place did I get them — Marshalls? Macy’s? I can’t even bear in mind,” he stated.

Villanueva lastly confirmed up an hour earlier than the talk, sweeping by the Skirball’s facet entrance accompanied by a safety element that appeared to continue to grow.

He solely emerged from his inexperienced room to get his make-up accomplished. Proper earlier than that, the sheriff scarfed down a brownie. His footwear had been standard-issue loafers as black because the footwear cops put on.

He and Luna each sported blue ties. That was one of many few commonalities of the night.

The 2 had been dealing with off for the primary time after a foul summer season for Villanueva. Luna had compelled him right into a runoff as Villanueva obtained the bottom proportion in a main election for an incumbent L.A. County sheriff in at the least a century.

He had simply come off a month by which his division misplaced a $31-million lawsuit over the improper launch of photographs of the helicopter crash scene the place Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna and 7 others perished.

And Villanueva obtained nationwide condemnation final week for a morning raid on the home of Sheila Kuehl, an L.A. County supervisor and his frequent critic. He characterised it as an investigation into public corruption, however many others noticed it as a thinly veiled witch hunt.

The sheriff had a plan for the talk: He was going to set a double entice to embarrass Luna.

Hours earlier than they confronted off, Villanueva’s camp launched to the information media a 34-page docket titled “A Report of Racial Violence and Harassment” that gathered police studies, lawsuits and extra from Luna’s decades-long profession, claiming to show the Lengthy Seaside Police Division’s “disturbing anti-Black historical past.”

What he didn’t inform the media was that he was additionally going to supply a treatise on how he’s extra Latino than Luna.

Strategically, it appeared an excellent transfer. This 12 months has seen Villanueva tormented by accusations by activists and members of his personal division that he has an animus towards Black folks. Polls present that Black voters assist Villanueva the least, whereas Latinos assist him probably the most. If he can painting Luna as anti-Black and a whitewashed Latino, he’ll be capable of shore up his assist with two voting blocs important to his reelection.

The controversy was sharp and heated. Large matters had been mentioned — homelessness, deputy gangs, public corruption — however then forged apart in favor of non-public assaults. Villanueva known as Luna a “puppet” and accused him of utilizing buzzwords. Luna known as his opponent’s propensity to lie “scary” a number of occasions and saved his cool, regardless of fixed goading by Villanueva.

When Villanueva lastly unveiled his two-pronged ethnic technique, he failed. Badly.

He saved attacking Luna whereas not responding to questions by the moderators. His anti-Black allegations went nowhere.

When Villanueva tried to assault Luna’s Latino credentials, he uncovered himself as a petty pendejo.

At one level, a Univison anchor posed a public security query from a viewer. Villanueva answered in technically good Spanish.

However his accent seemed like that of a white man who realized español from a elaborate faculty, not the streets.

Luna, when requested to translate what Villanueva stated, declined, hinting that his Spanish perhaps wasn’t the most effective. However so what? He’s identical to thousands and thousands of Latinos.

Villanueva’s largest swing concerned his spouse, Vivian. At one level, he rattled off the names of all the colleges in East Los Angeles she attended, from elementary by Cal State L.A.

“That’s what’s known as born and raised in East L.A. actually means,” the sheriff stated, gesturing at Luna. “You need to discuss integrity — you may need to make clear the place you had been raised and what colleges you went to.”

When a moderator requested whether or not Luna had integrity, Villanueva responded, “He must make clear the place he was raised.”

The implication: Luna was making an attempt to brighten his Eastlos credentials to attempt to make himself extra Latino than he actually was.

Luna stumbled for a bit, then admitted his sin. Sure, he began out in East L.A. However after his mother and father obtained some cash, they purchased a house in Santa Fe Springs, and he went to center and highschool there.

Santa Fe Springs, by the way in which, is the place Villanueva’s marketing campaign headquarters are.

What a burn.

Co-moderator Elex Michaelson of Fox 11 requested what was the purpose of Villanueva’s roll name.

“As a result of he claimed that in East L.A., he noticed deputies at work, and he knew a very good cop from a foul cop,” Villanueva replied. “And I actually had doubt while you’re that younger, you possibly can perceive the distinction of the 2.”

Luna responded by name-checking one of the infamous incidents within the historical past of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Division: the 1970 Chicano Moratorium, when deputies brutalized peaceable anti-Vietnam Warfare protesters and killed Occasions columnist Ruben Salazar with a tear gasoline canister to the top.

“Whenever you see deputies utilizing drive on folks with batons, I don’t learn about any of you within the crowd, I by no means forgot that,” he replied. “So once more, we’ve got the sheriff of L.A. County, who’s supposed to speak about deputy-involved shootings, pure disasters and all these crucial incidences — and he’s making up info proper right here in entrance of all of you.”

Not solely was Luna not rattled by Villanueva’s assault, however he returned to his Santa Fe Springs teenage years when requested whether or not the Sheriff’s Division ought to use various methods, in addition to violence, when stopping Latinos on bicycles — a scandal underneath Villanueva.

“I’m speaking to you as an individual who, as a 13-year-old, was driving a bicycle and obtained tossed face first into the hood of a sheriff’s automobile after I was in center faculty in Santa Fe Springs, when the sheriffs had that contract there,” he stated. “I’ve seen it from the opposite facet. It doesn’t really feel good.”

Villanueva had no reply.

On the finish, the moderators tried to do some lighthearted fast questions that uncovered extra of every candidate’s Latino credentials.

Favourite TV reveals? Each answered “Large Bang Concept,” which stunned them to the purpose they high-fived one another. Who stated Latinos can’t be nerds?

Favourite band? Luna answered with ranchera icon Vicente Fernández. Villanueva’s response was Maná, the ersatz U2 of Mexico.

Favourite sports activities crew? Villanueva went with the Dodgers. Luna stated Dodgers and Lakers.

¿Quien es más Latino? Solely Villanueva cares. His flexes had been so weak salsa that they made Tempo Picante Sauce appear as fiery as Tapatío.



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